I'm using D&D v3.5. What should happen when a template that is both (1) applicable to any living creature and (2) includes an Intelligence bonus is added to a mindless creature? Say for instance a half-green dragon giant praying mantis. As a half-dragon, the creature would benefit from a +2 bonus to Intelligence and would gain skill points as a dragon for it's racial hit dice, but the base creature has no Intelligence score.

Does a creature with a nonability for Intelligence gain the template's increase as though its Intelligence score were starting at 0, or would the bonus to Intelligence be lost on the base creature and remain mindless?

I didn't see any rules explicitly covering this but I might have missed something. Do the rules as written cover this case, and if not how should I handle it? Please support non-RAW answers by including an analysis of the pros/cons of your solution.


1 Answer 1


MM 3.5 on Nonabilities:

Some creatures lack certain ability scores. These creatures do not have an ablitiy score of 0 - they lack the ability altogether.

If the template adds a bonus, as most templates do, they cannot improve an ability that does not exist - unless the template specifically says so.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, one could argue that a half-dragon mantis is a completely different creature to a mantis and so you could factor back in the intelligence score, it's up to your DM whether or not you want the new creature to retain its hive mind or not. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 15, 2016 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gaynorvader Thank you. Refering to your pondering: I think the term "base creature" in any template description normally precludes it being a "completely different" creature as far as rules are concerned. Common sense and DM's descretion may well lead to other results, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Feb 15, 2016 at 18:58

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