The Hill Giant (DW p.272) is described thusly:

Ever seen an ogre before? Bigger than that. Dumber & meaner, too.

In addition, it has the move

  • Do something stupid.

However, it has the tag Intelligent.

How should I interpret these two characteristics--dumb/stupid vs. intelligent--that seem, to me, in direct opposition?


3 Answers 3


There's no conflict. The intelligent tag sets a very low bar — it just means that it's a type of creature that has more than instinct or animal cunning going for it. Its definition is:

It’s smart enough that some individuals pick up other skills. The GM can adapt the monster by adding tags to reflect specific training, like a mage or warrior.

“Smart enough” doesn't mean it needs to be Socrates or Buckminster Fuller,* it just needs to be more than D&D-style Int 1 or 2. So it's intelligent, in contrast to a tiger or a slime or a zombie. It can learn, and make mistakes, and do things that are stupid in the sense that intelligent beings can do stupid things.

* Though if you're playing DW for a bit of comedy, a Hill Giant with enormous spectacles, a slate cliff face covered in chalk-boulder scrawls, and surrounded by fabulous (and dangerous) Rube Goldberg inventions made out of rocks and sticks would be pretty great.

  • 19
    \$\begingroup\$ * That would be... spectacular =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 14:47
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You, sir, have inspired me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 15:13

When creating a monster, you assign the intelligent tag as follows (pg 227):

  • It’s as smart as a human or thereabouts: intelligent

Furthermore on pg. 224 it says:

Intelligent: It’s smart enough that some individuals pick up other skills. The GM can adapt the monster by adding tags to reflect specific training, like a mage or warrior.

Both surely fit the common Hill Giant, although probably at the lowest end of the spectrum.

You could also assign the Intelligent tag to any monster that is self-conscious. The main purpose of the tag is to signify that the monster is capable of forming basic plans, giving or taking orders, division of work and so on. It might be driven by more than basic instincts. It might show curiosity.

To apply this to a Hill Giant, doing something stupid might amount for them to make a plan, taking the action and shortly turning against them due to some short-sightedness. Maybe the Fighter got their Warhammer knocked away, and seeing as Hill Giants throw stuff, the particular one might think it a good idea to throw the Fighter's Warhammer back at him, reuniting him with his precious. That would be an example of an Intelligent monster doing something stupid.


Some examples:

non-Intelligent creatures:

  • A Roomba bumping against a wall.
  • A fly buzzing into a screen door or window.

Intelligent but stupid creature (trapped in a slapstick comedy):

  • swinging at that fly with a baseball bat, destroying the screen door in the process? (@nitsua60's example from a comment)

i.e. Sees a problem and a solution without considering even some fairly direct consequences.

An "intelligent" creature is smart enough to know it should open a screen door instead of walking into it. And that even if it's lost, walking repeatedly into the (sturdy) wall of a maze won't give a different result the 2nd time.

These examples of "stupid" seem to involve losing sight of the big picture while narrowly focused on one thing. Any Intelligent creature that survives on its own probably always maintains some minimal level of awareness of surroundings, though. Destroying its own house is funny but maybe not realistic, because "don't break my house" is something that a big + strong creature would be used to keeping in mind all the time.

It's also unlikely that you'd see an Intelligent creature run off a cliff while chasing something, unless it's very distracted by an unusual kind of distraction.

@iraserd's example of a Giant throwing a Warhammer at a Fighter is a good one. The consequence is immediate, but only obvious to those who understand what a Fighter can do with their Warhammer.


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