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I'm playing my first ever D&D character and he has an intelligence of 10. Several members of the party have higher intelligence (the mage, etc). Is my character supposed to be a bit stupid? Or is he normal while the others are super smart?

Assuming a real world IQ of 100 is average (supposedly IQ is calibrated that way), is an in-game intelligence of 10 equivalent to an IQ of 100? i.e. a normal person you'd meet on the street who's perfectly capable of thinking but not an academic genius?

If 10 is normal, that'd be easier to play, as I can reasonably assume that most thing's I'd think of, he'd think of. :)

Edit: Thanks for all the answers. For those who asked the Character is a Half-Elf Fighter.

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

In D&D, normal people are traditionally considered to be based around a 3d6 roll for each stat. This is somewhat complicated in newer editions by addition of standard arrays and whatnot, but they all stem from that historical assumption. But that means that Joe Blow on the street has a 10.5 in his stats, plus racial adjustments. The 4e PHB says "A score of 10 or 11 is the normal human average, but player characters are a cut above average in most abilities." So 10 is just a hair below the average, but it's not dumb - it's a C student type of person. Not clever but not "slow" in any way. If you wanted to base INT 10 = IQ 100 and then say maybe 2 stat points per 10 IQ points up and down from there, you'll get the general idea.

Adventurers have better stats than that - 4d6, point buys, whatnot all end up averaging way over 10. But I'm not sure you'd be dumber than the average adventurer, just because many character classes really dump stats like INT.

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You're right. 10 or 11 is the average score for an average person. I thought I might have been getting the idea from 3, but I just checked and it's the same. – C. Ross Dec 2 '10 at 2:12

Going the statistical route...

3d6 is the standard for "normal people". 3d6 has mean 10.5 and standard deviation 3

IQ, on Wechsler's Scale, has mean 100 and standard deviation 15.

Which means each point of Int stat is 5 points of IQ.

This gives the following table:

Int  W. IQ Terman Class
24 = 167.5 Genius or near genius
23 = 162.5 Very superior intelligence
22 = 157.5 Very superior intelligence
21 = 152.5 Very superior intelligence
20 = 147.5 Very superior intelligence
19 = 142.5 Superior Intelligence
18 = 137.5 Superior Intelligence
17 = 132.5 Superior Intelligence
16 = 127.5 Above average intelligence
15 = 122.5 Above average intelligence
14 = 117.5 Above average intelligence
13 = 112.5 Above average intelligence
12 = 107.5 Normal or average intelligence
11 = 102.5 Normal or average intelligence
10 =  97.5 Normal or average intelligence
 9 =  92.5 Normal or average intelligence
 8 =  87.5 Normal or average intelligence
 7 =  82.5 Dullness
 6 =  77.5 Dullness
 5 =  72.5 Dullness
 4 =  67.5 Dullness
 3 =  62.5 Borderline Deficiency
 2 =  57.5 Borderline Deficiency
 1 =  52.5 Borderline Deficiency
 0 =  47.5 Definite Feeble-mindedness

This works better †, however, if we compress the scale to 10 IQ points per Int past 1 std dev.

Int     W. IQ   Terman Class
 24  =  195.0   Genius or near genius
 23  =  187.5   Genius or near genius
 22  =  180.0   Genius or near genius
 21  =  172.5   Genius or near genius
 20  =  165.0   Genius or near genius
 19  =  157.5   Very superior intelligence
 18  =  150.0   Very superior intelligence
 17  =  142.5   Superior Intelligence
 16  =  135.0   Superior Intelligence
 15  =  127.5   Above average intelligence
 14  =  120.0   Above average intelligence
 13  =  112.5   Above average intelligence
 12  =  107.5   Normal or average intelligence
 11  =  102.5   Normal or average intelligence
 10  =   97.5   Normal or average intelligence
  9  =   92.5   Normal or average intelligence
  8  =   87.5   Normal or average intelligence
  7  =   77.5   Dullness
  6  =   70.0   Dullness
  5  =   62.5   Borderline Deficiency
  4  =   55.0   Borderline Deficiency
  3  =   47.5   Definite Feeble-mindedness
  2  =   40.0   Definite Feeble-mindedness
  1  =   32.5   Definite Feeble-mindedness
  0  =   25.0   Definite Feeble-mindedness

Pick one for your game.

By the way, "Dullness" is what most people call "mildly retarded" and borderline deficiency is typically moderately disabled; definite feeble mindedness is into the non-functional range.

† Better, as in, "More closely matching the labels EG Gygax used in early editions of D&D."

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+1 for fitting the two sets of data. – Pureferret Dec 31 '11 at 23:39

Intelligence is a very loosely interpreted attribute in 4th Edition

Intelligence (the attribute) is meant to capture a much more narrow concept than "intelligence" (the broad term). It represents the keenness of mind, the quickness of thinking, the rapidity of mental reaction.

It's important to remember that Intelligence contributes to AC equally with Dexterity. A smart wizard is just as good at avoiding being hit as an agile ranger. This isn't because he has a better mastery of language or algebra, but because he can process the information about his surroundings and come up with the appropriate response faster.

It's also worth noting that the range of starting intelligence scores for a character created under 4th Edition rules is 8 to 20. This can increase by up to 10 points for a maximum of 30 at level 28. I'm not sure how much "smarter" Int 30 is over Int 8... I suppose that depends on your own game world interpretation.

Contrast this with, for example, linguistic capabilities of a creature, as language is often a key indicator of "intelligence."

The Id Fiend (Dark Sun Creature Catalogue) has an Int of 13, but is incapable of understanding language. Conversely, the Zombie Cactus (also Dark Sun Creature Catalogue) has an Int of 4 and can communicate telepathically. So, yeah, a talking plant. Also, the Dagorran has an Int of 4 and can't speak, but can understand common. The Balhannoth (Monster Manual 1) has an Int of 3 and is fluent in Deep Speech. Creepy.

The Cacklefield Hyena (MM1) has Int 6 and is bilingual, capable of speaking both common and abyssal, but the Wild Hunt Hound (MM1) has Int 6 and doesn't have any linguistic capacity. Kobold Skirmishers (MM1) also have Int 6 and speak draconic and common.

As far as more objective intelligence scores, Hobgoblins, hardly the epitome of geniousness, can have an Int of 19 at level 3 (Warcaster, MM1).

On an unrelated, but equally interesting, note, the four most intelligent beings in the D&D 4th Edition Universe are Valamardace, Ancient Gold Dragons, Dagon, and Beholder Eternal Tyrant Essences, all of which have an Int of 36 (Vecna and Beholder Ultimate Tyrants trail behind at 34). Tiamat, sadly, lacks any Intelligence score :(

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