After a discussion in my Pathfinder group about D&D 5e, someone threw the (often heard) complaint that intelligence was mostly a useless stat outside of the classes for whom it is a primary stat. Seeing as the knowledge skills heavily depends on the GM's style, investigation is, in my experience, usually replaced with perception (again partially the DM's fault) and added to the fact that there seem to be only a few classes that uses Int for their ability.

We eventually came up with a house-rule suggestion :

  • An Int score of 14 grants an additional skill/tool proficiency.
  • An Int score of 16 grants another proficiency.
  • An Int score of 18 grants double proficiency for a single skill (similar to Expertise)
  • An Int score of 20 grants another double proficiency.

Since none of us have extensive experience with the D&D 5e system, we're not sure if this rule would break the system at some point. Has anyone used a similar rule or sees a reason this might imbalance the party?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 17 '18 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Str is even more useless outside of the classes for whom it is a primary stat. Why does that not bother you? Because it was the same in Pathfinder 1e? \$\endgroup\$ – András Aug 1 '20 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @andrás I hadn't thought of it this way. Maybe it's the difference of coming from older edition where Int had skills and more people would use a melee weapon without being able to add their casting stat to it. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Aug 1 '20 at 12:16

This will imbalance the party

Even with your changes, I would not expect Barbarians or Paladins putting lots of ASIs into Int, so in the end you will just make the already most versatile Wizard even more versatile.

Easy fix

Stop giving rewards after Int 14, the only people above it (Wizards) don't need extra motivation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like we were so focused toward replicating the older editions that we didn't think about it that way. Didn,t think about ASIs in this. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Mar 17 '18 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to address the training in skills (downtime) in the DMG that bears on this. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 17 '18 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Downtime has nothing to do with intelligence, so I think it is irrelevant here. The question is not about "how you can learn skills", but "how can you make intelligence more useful / important" \$\endgroup\$ – András Mar 17 '18 at 20:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András OK, I was reading it as a problem with skills that used intelligence. Once proficient in a skill, low intelligence won't matter as much as one goes up in level since proficiency starts with a +2 and goes up a bit (with an 8 int and investigation proficiency, you are already +1 on the roll). ... just a thought. I see your point on the "should we reward choosing higher int scores." \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 17 '18 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've accepted the answer because of the " the only people above it (Wizards) don't need extra motivation" line. And I like the idea of languages or secondary rewards. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Mar 18 '18 at 16:47

I've been toying with a similar system, but simplified a bit. At level 1, each point in your INT modifier grants proficiency in one intelligence-based skill or language of your choice.

This solves a couple of problems that may arise with your system that have already been mentioned: It doesn't overly reward extremely high intelligence, and it reduces the effect of the reward overall.

Still, I think it would motivate more smart characters. Rogues and bards may start with an INT of 12 to pick up investigation for free, while warlocks and sorcerers may want arcana so they can focus on face skills in other slots. If a druid or cleric has a couple extra build points laying around, they may choose to actually have proficiency in nature or religion.

What this doesn't do is allow any class to become a skill monkey, since many of the more practical skills aren't eligible for the boost, and the benefit is only applied at level 1; ASIs in intelligence don't add more skill proficiencies later.

The language option is there as a safety valve for the wizard who manages to have an 18 INT at level 1 and complains about there not being enough INT skills left after the class and background picks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The idea soinds interesting. Did you have an occasion to try it live? \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Apr 13 '18 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't, but I'd like to. While I don't miss the days of 3.5's complex rank system, I do think INT is too weak. I'm looking forward to artificers and mystics for the same reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Pres Apr 13 '18 at 19:11

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