I am wondering if it is possibile to reach the +17 modifier on an ability score. I am mainly keen on wizards, so I would like to know how it is possibile to reach 44/45 in Intelligence. At the moment i managed to reach 41, using magic items and bonuses of which I have knowledge of, but I guess I need your help.

The following are the bonuses I managed to find (at the moment I am considering a level 20th wizard)

  • First of all, we start with a 20 in Intelligence (18 on the dice +2 of racial bonus)
  • Extra ability score points from leveling up (4,8,12,16,20) so +5.
  • Headband of Vast Intelligence (+6).
  • Cast Wish 5 times, increasing the score of +1 each time (+5)
  • Read the Tome of Clear Thought (the most expensive one) to have another +5.

Total:20+5+6+5+5 = 41

So this is what I've found. I am not concerned with the prices of the magic items or spells because actually I am not playing such a wizard. I am merely curious about how can a score like that be achieved.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've changed the title to say "intelligence" since that is the body of the question and reaching for example 45 str is much easier. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 29 '16 at 12:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reading the Tome of Clear Thought and casting Wish 5 times won't stack since both of them are inherent bonus and "...only the better bonus of a given type works". \$\endgroup\$ – Jackyz Mar 29 '16 at 12:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the scope for allowed races? Just the core races, all playable races like from the ARG, or also non-player races like dragons? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Mar 29 '16 at 15:04

There are three other ways I know to increase intelligence.

The first is to convince/bargain with a Succubus to grant you a profane gift; this gives the character a +2 ability bonus to an attribute of their choice for as long as the Succubus wants it to last.

The other is to be old. Aging effects include intelligence, charisma and wisdom increases, middle, old and venerable age giving +1 to each mental stat for a total of +3, But this has a str/con/dex attribute loss. (My emphasis below)

With age, a character's physical ability scores decrease and his mental ability scores increase (see Table: Aging Effects). The effects of each aging step are cumulative. However, none of a character's ability scores can be reduced below 1 in this way.

The third is to become a Lich; which gives a +2 untyped intelligence modifier on it's template.

So with these three it's another +7; so without Tome/Wish stacking you have:

20+5+6+5+2+3+2 = 43, close!

Note: If the character were a sorcerer and interested in maximising Charisma then the spell Genius Avaricious could be used as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you become a Lich (which is undead) before being venerable, do you still take the penalties to the physical stats? \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Mar 30 '16 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ellesedil “Does a lich age?” sounds like a good question to post. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 30 '16 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Jethro the ancient Lich, he can remember when you had to work to become a Lich, not these new fangled spells and suchlike. Luxury. \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Mar 30 '16 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Removing the edit that someone did to my post here. The effects of aging are Cumulative and untyped: paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/… therefore as also explained here, +3 is the maximum bonus for mental stats, I will update the note here \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Nov 24 '16 at 11:52


In addition to the above answers, there's another way to temporarily boost your enhancement bonus on your intelligence. If you take the arcane discovery idealize, at 20th level you can have your foxes cunning spell last give you a +8 enhancement bonus, rather than the usual +4. This is 2 higher than just the +6 from the headband.

So if you add that to Rob's answer of 43, you're now up to 45.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice obscure find! :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Mar 29 '16 at 19:44

Tome of clear thought and wish both provide inherent bonuses to an ability score, so they do not stack with one another. So you’re actually at 36, which is the typical maximum for an ability score.

Beyond 36, you need unusual choices beyond the typical items and levels. Some ability scores are easier here than others; Strength, for example, can definitely hit 45, for example:

  • 18 base
  • +2 from race
  • +6 enhancement from belt of giant strength
  • +5 from levels
  • +5 from wish
  • +6 morale from greater rage (or +6 alchemical from greater mutagen)
  • +2 alchemical from mutagen (or +2 morale from rage)
  • +4 from dragon disciple

for a total of 48.

Dexterity and Constitution are also pretty easy to improve; Constitution can work pretty much the same as the above but with only +2 from dragon disciple, for 46 total. Dragon disciple doesn’t do Dexterity, but urban barbarian means rage can, so that is at least 44.

Mental scores can be improved (by up to +3) by being venerable, but aside from that, mental scores are harder, and harder still if you're already using your class levels (i.e. for something to do with those scores). Improving Intelligence in that case means cobbling together enough one-off bonuses and making sure they stack. I do not think there are enough bonuses available to hit 45 as a wizard, but I could be wrong. I was wrong; see other answers.


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