Our Sorcerer was hit by massive Int drain, to the point that she had an effective Int of 2. Between then and the time we could fix her Int drain, could she cast spells?

There are two obvious factors:

To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component)...

Having a low Intelligence means that you can't understand language:

Creatures of animal-level instinct have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Any creature capable of understanding speech has a score of at least 3.

Thus, she would not understand the words necessary to fulfil the verbal components of her spells.

However, the Sorcerer:

can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a sorcerer must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level.

Thus, the verbal components need not necessarily be intelligible speech, just words that "feel right" for the spell (borrowing from the Dresden-verse a bit). And, while she didn't understand language, she still had all of the physical equipment to produce language's sounds.

Tactics, targeting, etc. aside, do RAW speak specifically to an extremely-low Int spontaneous caster's ability to cast?


2 Answers 2


Probably yes, a sorcerer with an Intelligence score of 2 yet possessing sufficient Charisma can still cast spells with verbal components

The GM can rule that a low-Intelligence sorcerer can't cast spells, but the game doesn't outright say such a sorcerer can't cast his spells. Therefore, ultimately, the GM must decide. That's because according to Components

A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice.

While Pathfinder has several sets of rules for things called incantations (e.g. here, here), the term incantation as mentioned in Components is undefined, so the GM can then consult his favorite dictionary and use that definition of incantation to tell the sorcerer player No spellcasting for you.

Further, the GM may rule that the sorcerer's low Intelligence score makes him incapable of verbalizing at all, dropping the poor sorcerer back to the prelinguistic stage of language development.

But, assuming that the GM doesn't want to player to head off to the other room and play Smash Bros. until the sorcerer's Intelligence is at least 3 and that the player appreciates the challenge of role-playing, essentially, a dog with a built-in shotgun, the DM should permit the low-Intelligence sorcerer to cast spells.

Note that I would be very wary around a dog with a built-in shotgun, especially if that shotgun were reloaded automatically each time the dog wakes up from a long nap. I'd go to great lengths to keep that dog fed, happy, safe, and appropriately amused.

Because it's been referenced in several Comments, in Pathfinder's antecedent Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, under Monsters as Races it says

Creatures who have an Intelligence score of 2 or lower, who have no way to communicate, or who are so different from other PCs that they disrupt the campaign should not be used.

Then, later under Ability Scores for Monster PCs, it says

The separate table for [modifying a PC's] Intelligence [score when the PC is a monster] ensures that no PC ends up with an Intelligence score lower than 3. This is important, because creatures with an Intelligence score lower than 3 are not playable characters.

Neither artifact, so far as I can tell, appears in Pathfinder.


While there is no mechanical effect stopping a sorcerer from casting any spell they know with only int 2 (Assuming their charisma is restored high enough to meet the minimum of course), the term know is what get's fuzzy here.

At Int 2, any tactics out side of the feral basics (Surround them, go after the weak one, if they fight back enough that you can't keep calling them prey and you're not starving; you back off) is going to be too complex for their temporarily stunted mind. [Insert meta joke where wizard insists that is average for sorcerers.]

This can quickly enter the realm of roleplay a character 'too smart' if the sorcerer's player doesn't take into account the fact that not only can the sorcerer not say the word diameter, they can't figure out who is inside of one if they choose to center a blast on the goblin that just hit her with a throwing ax.

This is one of the situations where the DM might need to have the cleric make a heal (or wisdom) check in order to lay down a ruling as obscure physiological knowledge.

Honestly, if I was DMing in this situation, I'd have the sorceress's player list out their attack spells, their offensive buff/Fight spells and their defensive buff/Flight spells, (in order of ascending spell level) and have them roll on a chart to see which one they end of using when they select from the category. Is this Rules As Written, no. But it is Rules As Fiat'ed, for dealing with a situation that should be 1) debilitating enough the sorceress's player never again wants their Int going below 3 and 2) amusing enough that no one will forget the story.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1: While not exactly fulfilling the RAW tag, this is still a great answer as it provides a practical way of playing this scenario. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Jul 16, 2015 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the wizards insist on calling all sorcerers' minds stunted, then sorcerers might well reply that only wizards would be socially oblivious enough to be that rude. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Jun 7, 2021 at 21:58

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