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I have a half-ogre character at my local larp group, and one of the roleplay-enforced restrictions for half-ogres is that they have low intelligence. I often find myself biting my tongue not to say 'smart' witty things, or reason with others to work out the plot. Most of the time I just come across as quiet.

How can I play dumb and still enjoy myself?

How can I play dumb and enhance others' enjoyment of the game?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ask yourself, what would <insert name of particular individual or group you think is dumb> say? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10 '12 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ A nice bookend to How do I roleplay an Intelligent Character? \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Jan 10 '12 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyObenshain Erm… no. That usually leads to characters who embody your worst prejudices about people, which aren't fun to play and make the game worse for other people. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Jan 10 '12 at 21:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ My favorite inspiration for "dumb" play is Winnie the Pooh. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMNoob
    Jan 11 '12 at 11:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey all - great answers. I was afraid coming to this Q I would find it full of a) confusing chaotic with dumb and/or b) answers not based on real play (Good Subjective, Bad Subjective) but this is high quality. Good work! \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jan 12 '12 at 14:49

16 Answers 16

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The successful dumb characters I've seen aren't just dumb. Develop the character as much as you would a character that's not supposed to be dumb.

I find that characters who use one syllable words or weirdly bad grammar but seem otherwise unimpaired get boring pretty fast. Your character can often follow his friend's lead most of the time, but when he is left on his own, he makes mistakes, or does the obvious in combat. If his friends told him to do something and the situation changed, have him continue to do what they told him to do because he doesn't understand why he's doing it in the first place.

Also, don't overdo it. You probably rely on others for figuring certain things out, but you can remember how people have treated you. If people are condescending to you, you can tell unless they are subtle about it. When it becomes obvious you've done something stupid, you get ashamed, or angry, or are embarrassed and don't want anyone to mention it. You don't use complex sentence structure, but you usually speak normally enough that it isn't immediately obvious that you are dumb.

This can be fun for the table because it's kind of a problem solving exercise to give your character instructions that cover enough possibilities but aren't too complicated to understand. Some problem solving and strategy things are kind of out for you, but you can spend that time figuring out what your character's understanding of the situation is. To a point - you might want to ask everyone's help in not having the plot be a series of riddles or puzzles, unless they specifically give you something to do (e.g. your character is in a riddling contest matched up against a talking chicken "What am I sitting on?" "An egg". "What do I like for breakfast?" "An egg." "Where do chickens come from?" "An egg". "What came first before a chicken?"...).

For a really dumb character role playing them realistically would probably not be fun, since they mostly have no idea what is going on - it would be like trying to role play a dog. If it's a comic campaign where you are as dumb as would be funniest at that moment it might work OK, but it probably gets old within a few sessions at most. Or not. If you are having fun don't let me stop you - I'm just thinking about other people's characters that have worked out for my taste.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1; it's a great point that dumb characters are still going to be people, with a history and feelings on how they're treated. Giving them some emotional (if not intellectual) depth seems like a good way to make them satisfying to play. \$\endgroup\$
    – RSid
    Jan 11 '12 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Lots of great advice in this thread, but this one firmly address how to make dumb work with the group. Plus I feel like I learnt the most form it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13 '12 at 0:02
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Everyone in my gaming group has gone through this gaming evolution at some point. Finding the joy in playing a dumb character is all about getting into your character's mindspace (or lack there-of) and not taking yourself too seriously.

Make sure you are willing to make mistakes. Part of not being very bright is that your character can be confused, taken advantage of and otherwise misused by friends and enemies alike.

Rather than looking for intelligent witty things to say, look for hilarious misunderstandings. Take things too literally. Never understand the difference between a metaphor and truth. Look at the world in black and whites and cling to them stubbornly in the face of reality.

Every once in a while you can be what my group refers to as "dumb-telligent". A dumb-telligent moment is that moment when a simple minded character can bring the rest of the party down to earth by stating something very simply. When I was playing a dumb character I never did this more than once a session. It was like Hero Point or Action Point where once I spent it, it was gone.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It can be an awful lot of fun. You just have to couple it with a certain ... lack of responsibility. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Jan 10 '12 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are 7 individual awesome ideas here. My standard editing style is to find good answers, break them down, and highlight the main ideas. This is so well written that I think that would have made the answer worse. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1637
    Jan 10 '12 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the one dumb-teligent moment per session quota. It gives you a chance to contribute a bit while enhancing your character, and without feeling like cheating. All the ideas are good. \$\endgroup\$
    – psr
    Jan 13 '12 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the dumb-telligent but not its quota. If "clever" characters often go out of their way with too complex explanation for stuff, it is perfectly normal for the dumb character to bring them down to Earth every time this happens. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Jan 17 '12 at 15:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 love this answer. Played an unintelligent (7) dwarf in PF and had him make up words, misunderstand others, misuse others and generally embarrass the party and himself (especially himself) whenever possible. Overall a nice guy, real great with swords, just dumber than a box of rocks with a book on quantum physics lol \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Nov 22 '12 at 5:50
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What I've found works realistically is not to always misinterpret things but to simply fail to put things together. When the rest of the party comes up with a four part plan, the stupid character won't see how the parts fit together to accomplish anything.

This method is less amusing than always being wrong, but it lets you play a dumb character who isn't comic relief. If you're the bumbling idiot who always gets things exactly and precisely wrong, the party ends up laughing at and ignoring you.

The other factor of this technique is figuring out how your character reacts to being dumb. I've played three successful stupid characters and they all took their stupidity in different ways.

  • My half orc got angry about it. When he didn't understand something he'd frustrate quickly. But when he did get something (or think he did) he'd get extremely smug and nobody wanted to tell him he was wrong.

  • My stoner didn't even know he was dumb. He had a different enough niche than the rest of the party that he could plan out his own shenanigans without getting in anyone's way.

  • My half ogre was blissfully ignorant. He did whatever he wanted when he wanted. The silly talky folk had to come up with plans to accomplish everything, but Tibor just did things. In his mind this made him superior to the rest of the party.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like all of these characters already. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22 '12 at 5:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a great example of the "stoner" character above is Dolph Lundgren's character Gunner in Expendables 2. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31 '13 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ "But why male models?" .. [long winding explanation] .. "But why male models?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    May 1 at 9:30
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Ask questions that give other people a chance to show off how smart they are.

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Count to 5 before speaking.

Feel free to be as eloquent as you want, but have pauses in your conversation like you're practicing what you're going to say. While normally pauses in oration show deliberation, unusual pauses and strategic misplaced words could produce a feeling of someone "trying too hard" to be smart: a good way to appear uneducated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Damn, that's amazingly similar to my advice for playing a character with high wisdom. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip
    Jan 10 '12 at 22:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ This sketch is a great example of how effective pauses can be when playing stupid. \$\endgroup\$
    – hammar
    Jan 11 '12 at 4:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ You need an educate and non-chaotic group to do that, otherwise at the first pause someone will just talk over you. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Jan 17 '12 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lohoris "HEY! I HADN'T FINISHED YET", if said with a menacing look and coming from an half-ogre sure looks menacing and might convince someone to let him think for a while. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Nov 16 '12 at 15:13
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I don't necessarily recommend using every tip described below. Some of them can easily result in comical characters. If you are only trying to lower your intelligence by a little bit, you may only need to follow one or two of these steps. Also, note that Half Ogres and Half Orcs do not necessarily have to be bad at puzzles, games, or reading "bad guys," but complex plots, plans, or speeches may typically overwhelm them.

Limit Your Vocabulary

Choose a set of words (perhaps 200-500, depending on how dumb you want to be, down from the normal 2,000) to which you will limit yourself.

OR

Limit yourself to simple words - one and two syllable words for the most part, though I would recommend "happiness" over "bliss." If you need to say anything more complicated, combine two words - tree killer instead of woodcutter, for example.

Limit Tense Usage

I recommend using at most two or three tenses, and using them in an overly consistent manner.

  • Present Tense

    Limit yourself to simple present tense phrases. For example, say "I fight" instead of "I am fighting."

  • Past Tense

    With past tense it is important to be consistent about how you conjugate verbs. Don't say "We fought the dragon." Instead, say "We fighted the dragon" or even "We fighted da big scaly." If that feels too dumb, use "did," and say "We did fight the dragon."

  • Future Tense

    Future tense is easy. You can be consistent, and always preface future tense with "will" or "gonna." I recommend choosing the helper verb ahead of time, though, and sticking with it.

  • Other Tenses

    • Conditional - "We maybe gonna fight the dragon" instead of "We might fight the dragon." "We maybe did fight the dragon" or "We maybe fighted the dragon" instead of "We might have fought the dragon."
    • Infinitive - Use the present tense form of the word, or always prefix it with "to," even if this is inappropriate. "We prepare to fight the dragon." In general, I recommend against using complex phrases that entail using Infinitive forms of the verb, though.
    • Perfect and Progressive Tenses - Avoid them.
  • Subject-Verb Agreement

    Don't worry about it. Mix and mingle these, if you want; always speak as though you're using singular third person (or some other tense), or always get it wrong. It's an honest mistake!

Abuse First Person

Avoid the word "I." You can say "Me go to market" or "Trorg buy a big sandwich." Alternatively, use the word "I" but use verbs as though it were third person. "I goes to market. I buys a big sandwich." Or do both.

Ignore Proper Sentence Structure

Instead of saying "To whom does this sword belong?" say "Whose this sword?" (or "Who dis sword?")

Be Impatient

Role-play getting bored when other people talk too much. Interrupt people, assuming you have understood what they're intent is. Jump to assumptions. Wander off while they're talking.

Be Crude

Political correctness is for the elves.

Mispronounce words

Certain words make sense to be slurred when playing one of the dumber races. "This" is typically pronounced as "Dis." Other words - or names - are just too complicated for you to understand. Instead of calling the elven lady "Aeraelastia," call her "Arlasta."

Make Decisions Differently

The rules of logic were created by a philosopher, and you are anything but. A Half-Orc or Half-Ogre shouldn't be swayed by logical arguments, but rather should utilize your own sort of decision making criteria. For example, attack a farmer who's yelling at his wife because "he yelled so he must be bad!"

Find something interesting that motivates your character

This can add depth to any character, but it can make stupid characters particularly memorable. I had a character who enjoyed making sculptures out of mud. Alternatively, just get excited about simple things (likely with some theme, still).

Be Immature

It's possible the character you're playing is immature rather than (or in addition to being) stupid. If so, display some of the following signs of immaturity:

  • Volatile emotions - be impatient, anger easily, etc
  • Dependence or COMPLETE independence - Asking someone else to always do something for you, or more likely, refusing to let anyone else do anything for you, even if they are clearly better qualified. "Nope, Trorg talk to diplormat himself!"
  • Require instant gratification
  • Be selfish

Forget Subtletly

It's pretty difficult to be subtle. If someone tries to say something indirectly, one of the following behaviors may be appropriate:

  • Be incapable of understanding
  • Require multiple hints before you understand
  • Require to have been told ahead of time that "I'm tired" means "Attack the people we're talking to!"
  • Always assume that the cue means the same thing, even coming from other people
  • Interpret other social cues incorrectly
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    \$\begingroup\$ Leyroooy Jeeeenkiiiins! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 '12 at 18:52
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One of my favorite characters I have played was a goliath barbarian (who was adventuring with his brother, who was a warden). Neither were very intelligent, which is the first trick:

  1. Stupid birds of a feather flock together. Try convincing one of your fellow players to also join the Dumb Side and play off of each other like a pair of Stooges or Beavis and Butthead or the dudes from Dumb and Dumber...which brings me to:

  2. Watch some stupid movies/tv shows. Pay close attention to how stupid people communicate. Notice when the stupid characters advance the story/solve the puzzles...they rarely do such things on purpose. However, they still get things done.

  3. When you are tempted to do something smart, do the opposite. If you play it right, you can still do the thing you wanted to do, but again, it plays out as more of an accidental outcome or unintended consequence of your actions.

  4. Talk with your DM outside of the group to see if they can help these kinds of things happen. Let them know what you intend and make them aware of how you would like things to run regarding your character. I have yet to meet a DM that doesn't appreciate someone who is willing to actually role-play their characters, and most will be more than happy to help facilitate that kind of participation.

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Have you ever read simple wikipedia?

When I play my half-orc barbarian I limit his vocabulary to a small subset of common words that he gets a lot of mileage out of. I also throw out most grammar and talk in the third person a lot. It makes my character come off as sounding stupid, and with the effort it takes to parse what I want to say through stupid-speech, its usually pretty authentic.

Trog no like puny mage-man.

Trog get krunked now.

Talky gnome lie to Trog

If army has key'o'doom (plot-line mcguffin)... and Torg as no key... den army has mo boomboom den Trog. Dat nevva good. Hmmmm, Trog need be sneaky uppy army. Trog take key wif no boomboom. Now Trog has mo boomboom den army.

Trog sorry. Trog have communicational difficulty wif what you say. In momma tounge, "Subtly assassinate" turn to "boomboom wif no boomboom". (guys, my character votes against poisoning the king).

It differentiates between table-talk and what I say in-character. I'm completely absolved of having to memorize the NPC's names. Plus it's hilarious when I roll decently with a bluff or diplomacy, and whip into the King's English.

I say, good sir, you DO know that your master is a veritable scoundrel practicing in the dark arts of necromancy, don't you? I would be aghast, A GHAST, to think of the dire consequences of continuing in your line of work. dons monocle

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 realized why this struck a chord with me: it sounds like the Gungans from Star Wars Episode 1. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zimul8r
    Oct 30 '13 at 21:12
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I think the key is to be dumb about certain things. Most people are smart about some things and not so smart about other things. Even really smart people have their weak spots, just as some dumb folks have strong points.

For example, one of the players in our group did a stellar job playing a (surprise) barbarian. He had phenomenal combat sense. He reacted instinctively to danger and was always a step ahead of the other players in terms of one on one tactics. But he couldn't even conceive of the concept, much less practice, of small unit tactics. When told to fight as part of a group he'd react with a sort of dumb pity. "Huh. You and your 'tactics' are girlish and weak."

The player lined up a few areas in which the player was mentally inadequate, either because of cultural conditioning or lack of cognitive abilities. He was utterly dense with regard to women and nonhumans, which is why he tried to court an elven maiden with a haunch of meat. He had no social graces, not because he was arrogant, but because he couldn't detect any of the subtle clues of body language and behavior. In general, if he couldn't touch it or see it directly, it didn't exist for him.

This player was able to get into that head space, which I think was the key to his success. Rather than using a formula, he had a few simple rules that governed the character's thinking, and applied them. The results were sometimes humorous, sometimes very bad for the PC group, and always interesting.

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Some of the best 'dumb' roleplaying I've seen is where they deliberately misunderstood things, often in extremely amusing ways. Eventually they would get there, but it would take some time...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This reminds me of when I played a half-ogre. Party mage was running away and the rest of the PCs told me to bring him back. He cast Suggestion or Domination (DnD 3.5) at me when I was dragging him back and said "Put me down". I did it. "Hit this wall with you head" he said, so I grabbed him again and proceeded to attack the wall with my bald spot (it survived). I guess not being able to remember too many things can sometimes help your character. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maurycy
    Jan 11 '12 at 7:40
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Fatal flaws like stupidity can be the best part of role playing.

We have a character who is illiterate but refuses to admit it (Even to himself).

If there is anything with writing on it he will jump in and try to deal with it--for instance if there is a mechanism like a panel of buttons he will jump in, read the text thoughtfully then roll a die to see which one is OBVIOUSLY the one that opens the next door and not the one that incinerates the treasure.

If challenged about it, he gets quite upset.

If you stubbornly keep up with stunts like this you will find that even if it initially annoys some of your party they will most likely find it the one thing they remember a year later.

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Use "first order thinking" -make the first,most obvious connections but then avoid taking the next step. Make simple inferences. Possibly be very superstitious.

Or alternately, arrive at normal conclusions ... Just get there very slowly.

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I am glad this question exists, because now I get to talk about the first successful RPG character I ever created...

GESAN THE HALF-ORC MONK

Gesan came from a faraway land (not Asia) where he was taught to hone his physical strengths and the virtues of mediation and devotion to his country and cause.

He was also, despite frequently participating in meditation, as dumb as a sack of bricks. And to this day he is one of my favorite characters I have ever played.

Here is how he uniquely contributed to the party, and to the enjoyment of the rest of the group.

GESAN PROTECTS EVERYONE

Gesan was a monk, but he was also a big, strong guy who could take a ton of hits, due to several good hitpoint rolls and a high constitution modifier. As such, he would often throw himself in front of other people to protect them out of his devotion to the group.

Usually this meant Gesan needed a lot of healing afterwards because he had done so before considering that the person he was saving wore heavy armor and had even better capacity for tanking damage than himself.

But he did it anyway. He had an idealized vision of himself, and this was stronger and more pertinent to him than the actual person that he was. "Dumb" individuals act like this all of the time, because they don't so much think of themselves by the qualities that they have, but the qualities they aspire to have. It works for them (Or it hopefully does if you're playing a character this way) because by aspiring towards those qualities, they obtain them to some degree.

But they still act towards them, even when they don't fully measure up to those qualities in reality. This is why Gesan throws himself in front of a heavily-armored Paladin, and has to be re-directed constantly by the other members of the group towards better goals. You will know when you are doing this right when everyone in the group shouts your character's name at once.

Let them redirect you though, because while playing a bumbling overconfident character IS fun, it's only fun until it causes problems for the group. Unless your character is also very obstinant, you should let them give you a bit of direction first, THEN throw yourself at it with wreckless abandon.

GESAN BREAKS THROUGH DOORS

This is perhaps my favorite moment in Gesan's history. While travelling through a dungeon, our group came upon a locked door. After exploring a side-room, we found a key being guarded by a skeleton. Gesan picked up the key, and when we walked back to the room, Gesan was given instructions to open the door.

He proceeded to break it down with his fists. And we held onto that key for a good five session.

Obvious solutions, like opening a door with a key you just found, don't always come to a character who is 'dumb'. Think about a situation where you've tried to accomplish a task that was fairly simple, but because you didn't know how to do it, you wound up doing a lot more work than you had to, or wound up brute-forcing your way through it. This more difficult solution is a "simpler" solution, and is often the logic on which a 'dumb' character will act.

You can justify it in a few ways. Perhaps the character wants to show off a bit by doing things the 'hard' way, even though it's a very bad idea. Or perhaps they haven't connected the dots and they simply think they're being told to do the impossible.

Again, you should try to do this when it is less likely to cause a problem, and let the other players' characters talk you out of it if it WOULD cause a problem. You are playing a dumb character, but that does not mean you need to be dumb with your character.

GESAN THINKS VERY CAREFULLY

The last room in this dungeon had a very complex riddle, one that Gesan was certain he could solve given enough time to think about it. He sat down and thought about it, for quite. Some. Time. While the other characters solved the riddle easily.

And just as they were solving it, Gesan burst into the room, smiling brightly because he had finally figured out the answer! Which wasn't terribly good since the casters of the party were now fighting a released Chimera through two chokepoints. Gesan backed out very quickly.

There's a myth about playing 'dumb' characters that says they should never be allowed to solve complex or cerebral problems, because they're 'dumb'. While they certainly aren't the heavy-thinkers of the group, it can happen, either by luck, coincidence, or sheer determined effort. And it adds a level of depth to a character when you show that off. That they aren't 'just' the dumb character, but that they can occasionally think of things on their own, even if it's not always useful, not always on-time, or not always applicable.

More importantly, a dumb character will try. They will try as hard as they can to help with problems that they aren't necessarily good at, if tasked with it, or if they have to do it. And you can really make their personality shine by showing just how they deal with this adversity.

In Gesan's case, it was through sheer determination and a refusal to give up on the task at hand - the same way he deals with all of his problems. And the way your character deals with their own problems should reflect not just on their 'dumbness', but on the real personality behind it.

GESAN SUMMARIZES GESAN

"What he mean when he say Gesan is not smart, is Gesan is slow, but sharp like plow. Gesan takes time to learn new things, and Gesan think carefully on things, but Gesan get job done, and Gesan always try, even if Gesan not always do it right. Gesan try as hard as he can."

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Approach the problem from a writer's perspective:

As an amateur author, DM and player my advice is stop trying to think up ways to "Make" your character dumb. A lot of the other answers here focus on what I would consider superficiality and give only one or two highly specific behaviors to emulate "dumbness" as if it were an affliction, a curse of some sort. This curse is akin to a pair of gloves of fumbling, that will present itself at opportune moments for comedic relief or trouble for the party.

Doing this to your Half-Ogre will not only render this character boring to play - but entirely mechanical, meaning you can set your character down - write out a rule sheet similar to computer code - and the DM himself can just reference your codified set of behaviors and know what your character is going to do. Severely limiting your storytelling and development arc of your Noble (or not so Noble) half-ogre to mere hireling and up-plussed NPC.

Focus instead on framework of limitations and strengths to pull from. Specific, consistent, behaviors are personality quirks best added after you figure out your basics.

I am going point out - not so subtly a major flaw in your character concept:

  • You are playing a Half-Ogre - not a retarded human.
  • Ogre's are a (presuming) "Darwinistic-ly" viable species that has proven successful at surviving despite "Low" intelligence.
  • Your characters instincts, common sense, and perspectives will be different than that of a full blooded human and that of a full blooded ogre. Most likely a blending of the two.

So lets set a framework of how your character can be "perceived" by mere human standards to be "dumb" without codifying a list of stereotypical behaviors that will pidgen hole your enjoyment at the table.

To start: Lets address the Ogre's general perspective on the world around it. This is me theory crafting and talking out loud - but it's meant to be a brief attempt at creating what your character /might/ be like. This is me freestyle writing off the cuff to give an idea of what I'm talkin about.

Ogre's are usually listed as solitary creatures. Why? Because they are the biggest and strongest around, and being the biggest, they need to eat lots to survive. Its common sense to an Ogre that if a bunch of ogre's get together, they have to have larger and larger communal territories, meaning each ogre in that community will have to expend more and more energy to walk both to and from fertile hunting grounds. Its a lot smarter to spread out and let each ogre have their own space. And it makes a lot of sense that if your bigger and stronger, you get the better hunting ground. I can prove my point by bashin in the weaker Ogre's head for good measure, or I better get clear or he might bash in my head. Common sense.

Humans, with all that farming and cattle rearing - are wasting energy. The heard know how to take care of themselves, so why spend all that time and energy cutting trees, scrapin dirt and building big fences, when you can just let the heard be, and walk on down there from time to time when you need a proper snack. The only reason humans have to build such un-natural herds is cuz they don't spread out enough. If humans wanna make big herds in my territory, I'll keep the human size down small enough so they don't threaten me.

Since I live alone, and everything I need is in my space, I don't need to "trade". Because I don't need to trade, I don't need to learn advanced mathmatics. I can still count to 20, 30, or even 40 on a good day, other than that, I can call it "lots" and be done with it.

Along those lines, why should I spend energy and time thinkin up things that arn't real or goin to happen. I can still think about what I need come winter time, or what might happen if I kick the human farm over, or make that hoard of orcs over there mad. I can do cost-to-risk analysis's about how my behavior may affect the future. But it tends to favor immediate actions. If I attack that orc war party - I'm liable to be hunted. If I see a magi - I probably should eat that magi first. Am I bigger and stronger that that ogre? Yes? I'll smash his head in for bein in my territory. If not, I'll make it happy and hope he leaves.

I don't like the human ideas of tradin. If I'm bigger and stronger, and if it's in MY territory, I should just take it. If they are the humies that made the thing, I'll take it and leave em be, cuz they might make more. If I don't like them - THEN I'll take it, and eat them as a snack.

I would imagine Ogres have little reason to trade. Other than appeasement gifts, or trying to carry favor with a potential mate - its either his stuff, or it isnt. The abstract concept of "Coin for Labor" or the inherent properties (absudities) of gold doesn't make a whole lot of sense to a common ogre. It has value cuz someone else says its valuable (A specific person or tribe of people). To me something has value if it has immediate use or is something I KNOW will solve a problem I've seen in the past pop up.

Since the ideas of farming and mechantile trade are not part of my species culture, our ability to do math is limited, but not non existant. I still need to be able to count and realize that 40 orcs are killable, 50 are not.

I rely more on my experience when planning for the future than anything "imaginative". I still learn, I can still remember, but I place more emphasis on usefull things that represent actions. If I've seen a river dam break and wash out a village, I can be clever and wash out another village that needs be removed if I see a similar situation - saving me energy.


I can go on for hours playing around with this idea, but it gives you an idea of where I am going with it. We have a character concept of a huge ogre that is intent on conserving energy and preserving itself and its assets in order to survive.

He favors physical, tactile thinking, strategies and planning. He learns from past experiences and think humans group up too much and waste too much energy on things that may not ever happen.

Viewed from an outside perspective - he could be viewed as dumb and slow. Not having a natural ability to count coin very well, or seemingly slow to react to something. But in reality - he doesn't want to buy that bauble from the merchant, and his "slow to react" is actually him waiting to see how the initial conflict pans out before commiting his energy to the engagement. He relies on his natural strength and simple - permanent solutions to his problems, rather than convoluted human schemes.

THIS is the point where you add character quirks: Like him keeping a destrider (war horse) as a puppy. If you add in many of the other suggestions - all your doing is boxing yourself into a corner.

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One of the things I do to help me decide actions for characters that have average or less than average intelligence or wisdom, is that I let the dice decide for me. For example, if I'm faced with a situation where my character's actions could be affected by their knowledge or experience, I decide in my mind a couple of options based on two questions. What would be an intelligent way to handle this? and What would be the "dumbest" way to handle this?

Once I have a couple of options in my mind across the spectrum, I roll an appropriate dice check. For example, in Pathfinder or DnD I would roll a D20 and make a straight up Wisdom check for myself. I may apply a modifier based on context, such as a penalty if my companions are arguing or have no idea and a bonus if my companions are in general agreement. Then, based on how much I make it or fail it by, I try to scale my character's response and actions along the scale between my ideas of the best and dumbest ways to handle the situation.

Obviously if you're pressed for time, taking the time to think through options and rolling a 'check' isn't really appropriate, but I have found it works find in combat or in situations where we have a moment to decide things. And it often ends up being quite a bit of fun letting the dice influence what my character does.

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I think one of my favourite portrayals of a character who maybe doesn't have the highest intelligence is how they chose to portray Drax the Destroyer in the MCU--sure, you could argue it's a cultural difference, but I think taking everything extremely literally and not understanding sarcasm or metaphors is a very viable way of playing a low intelligence character without having to talk like a caveman or doing really stupid things.

The Dumb & Dumber characters are also pretty good for examples of very low intelligence characters, but they're also super annoying so caveat emptor!

With regards to LARP though, I think Dave Bautista's Drax is a masterclass in how to make a low intelligence character entertaining for others ;-)

There's a lot of good advice above already, but some of it is very specific for table-top and much harder to utilize at a LARP. I think it's definitely harder at a LARP than tabletop to "play attributes" differently though, because you don't have numerical attributes assigned to you as a guideline-- LARP characters are quite often just idealized, or marginally tweaked variations on the player, because your phys-rep is such an intrinsic part of your experience.

I completely understand your impulse to say nothing (and the resulting coming across as quiet), playing an archetype that is significantly reduced than your real-world capacity is never easy. Consider how ridiculous it would be with any other attribute? Having to play someone physically weaker than you actually are, or significantly less dexterous--these aren't ever things we really ever consider--probably the easiest "stat" to play against type for is Charisma, honestly.

I know a lot of people above have mentioned how much fun it can be to have a stupid character in the party, and I'd like to offer a counterview; I often can't stand it--it's in the danger territory of "my guy" syndrome, and ultimately doing things that are counter-productive to group efforts can really ruin other peoples experience because it's what your "character would do" can really suck for your party.

To be clear, I'm not saying you're doing this at all, I just thought it needed mentioning.

I've played a character who had a reasonably low 8 intelligence in D&D, which is just below the the lower end of average tbh, and the way I played him he wasn't stupid when it came to figuring things our or common sense, he just didn't have any "book smarts", and asked people to explain things rather than taking things for granted.

Another player I've played with extensively decided that the way he'd play his low intelligence character was to have them just believe everything they were told--I suppose you could argue that, using tabletop examples for a minute (depending on your system), this could also be a very low wisdom character, but when it comes to looking at attribute strengths and weaknesses I'm partial to referring to the old D&D Player's Options books from way back in the realm of D&D 2nd edition (1995).

In that system they broke down each of the characters attributes into 2 sub-attributes allowing a spread around the stat score so you could better focus your character on one aspect or both, for example Dexterity was broken down Aim and Balance. Intelligence was broken down into Knowledge and Reasoning, so maybe your 8 Intelligence character is okay at figuring things out (Reasoning 10) but doesn't really know much at all (Knowledge 6)--the reverse of that could be a lot of fun to play too, someone who remembers/learns things well, but isn't very good at figuring things out for themselves.

Bottom line, low intelligence doesn't have to mean monosyllabic cave-man speak, it can also be extreme gullibility, forgetful, naïve, and just not knowing a lot about anything--and it's also system-dependent. Does low intelligence also mean poor instincts? Poor intuition? etc.

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