Intelligence is a stat used mostly by Wizards. It also governs a number of skills of an academic nature. The PHB defines Intelligence on page 177 as.
Intelligence measures mental acuity, accuracy of recall and the ability to reason.
Their are five skills that rely on Intelligence. They are Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature and Religion. All of these apart from Investigation are about a character knowing facts about a subject. Investigation is more about using logic and reasoning to deduce clues. Examples of it use are digging through texts or reading a crime scene.
How to rate Intelligence?
In order to convey what a characters Int stat means I will be giving some examples and an IQ score. The first examples will be monsters and villains of TV and film. The second example will be creatures from the Monster Manual. This will give (hopefully) a good way to reference the subjective intellect of a character or monster.
This level of Intelligence is as low as it gets. Because of this a character would have limited or no ability to communicate, eat, bath, dress themselves. Their IQ would be rated as around 0 to 20 and would be profoundly mental impared. The best example of this in film would be the classic zombie. They do not talk and have no ability to reason so fit the bill nicely. Oozes, Fungi and Carrion Crawlers have an intelligence of 1. So bugs, mushrooms and slime have this level of intellect.
Int 2 – 3.
This is a very small step up. This character would have a limited ability to communicate and perform basic tasks. Their IQ would be between 20 and 40 they would be considered severely mentally impaired. The example I would give for this is King Kong or Godzilla. Because they are unthinking monsters with animal intelligence. But they do have some ability to communicate. D&D cannon monster who rate this low for intelligence include Darkmantle and Griffins.
Int 4 – 5.
This is the lowest bar of practical intelligence for a character to possess. They would be able to communicate and maybe read a little. This character would be moderately handicapped with an IQ between 04 and 60. The Xenomorph from Alien is a good an example. It possesses a high level of animal cunning. But no ability to evolve beyond what it is. Wyverns and Shambling Mounds are examples of this level of intelligence.
Int 6 – 7.
At this stage a character can function independently with few difficulties. They would be well below average with an IQ of 60 to 80. Due to this they would be considered borderline mentally impaired . With this in mind my example in popular culture is Frankenstein’s Monster. The monster is highly volatile but at points shows language use and cunning. An example is this tracking down of Victor through reading his diary. Creatures with this level of intelligence are Orcs and Trolls. Both are considered dull witted but they are able to work in groups and plan ahead.
Int 8 – 9.
Dipping just under the average intelligence but able to function this character would have and IQ of about 80. This puts them in the low average category. Dull witted and uneducated would describe this level of intelligence. The Marvel villain Juggernaut makes a good example. He is vastly powerful, brutish and solves any problem with sheer force. But he has the knowhow to wear his protective helmet and will work with others to further his goals.
Int 10 – 11.
We now reach the very mid point of intelligence. This character has no problem communicating or planning ahead. They could have a good basic education and with effort master more complex subjects. With and IQ of over 100 they are in every sense the norm. Media is full of bad guys who fit into this bracket. For this piece I have chosen Amon Goth from Schindler’s List. He is a man of average intellect who has only risen in the ranks due to his devotion to the abhorrent Nazi world view. This shown through how easily Schindler manipulates him and his use of violence against those who question him and by implication his intelligence. Cyclops and Kobolds are creatures of average intelligence.
Int 12 – 13.
Those at this level of intelligence are above average, they are smarter than most people around them. They rate around the 120 mark for IQ. Due to this they could hold higher degrees and understand complex subjects. Perhaps even more than the average level of intelligence we have great numbers of villains who fit this bill. Deep Space Nine’s Gul Dukat as a personal favourite springs to mind. He is a cunning adversary who makes far reaching plans for the future. While he is certainly not a genius he is very clever and matches wits with many of the characters over the course of the series. The sinister Rakshasa are one of the creatures with this level of intelligence.
Int 14 -15.
We now hit the rare group of gifted thinkers. These characters are vastly above the common folk and display great insight and Machiavellian levels of planning. They would score around 140 on the IQ scale and be considered gifted or maybe even geniuses. One such example in popular culture is Keyser Soze from the Usual Suspects. He makes plots within plots and moves the other characters around like pieces on a board. Ultimately he uses his intellect to achieve his goals while toying with all those around him. The chaotic Death Sladd and serine Dryad’s are listed at this level of intelligence.
Int 16 -17.
Those in this category are true geniuses that few minds can fathom. They can create inventions most cannot even dream of and push the very limits of human knowledge. This group would rate around 160 for IQ and represent the very peak of human intelligence. Such villains as Lex Luthor, Max Zorin or Ernst Stravro Blofeld qualify for this stat level. Supremely intelligent and able to out think even the greatest of hero’s they are inventors, master manipulators and unique thinkers. The mad but brilliant Beholder holds this level of intelligence.
Int 18 -19.
We now ascend to the level of almost superhuman intelligence. These characters would have an IQ of around 180 and they are rare indeed. They are the Einstein’s of the fantasy world. Finding a villain with this high an IQ is at best tricky. One possible example is Marvels Dr Doom. Doom as able to invent devices that traverse time itself and manipulate forces beyond the limit of even the greatest minds. The despotic Aboleth’s of D&D pre-history are one of the few creatures with such a high Int stat.
Int 20 – 21.
A character who has this level of intelligence would be considered superhumanly intelligent. They are outside the scope of any measure of IQ normally understood. However for the purpose of this article they should be considered to have an IQ of 200+. Villain’s with this sort of mind are hard to place as they bridge the gap between men and godlike beings. The Master from Doctor Who could be considered in this bracket because he is beyond knowledgeable on any subject and is able to perform tasks that would be deemed impossible for others. The god sired celestial Empyrean and a few other almost godlike creatures have this level of intelligence.
There is a lot of room to argue who should rank where in this article. Also the IQ of any given Int score is very subjective. If intelligence 20 is the max a character can get without Wishes then 10 is the average. I have used that premise to create this article. This does mean that the Int 18 wizard that are in many parties should be considered a genius. As wizards wield powers with their mind that most can’t understand this makes some sense. But just because they are clever when it comes to magic does not mean they are as capable when it comes to the rest of life. Most people have met the guy who is amazing at something you barley grasp. But they struggle to deal with the rest of life. Enjoy, comment and feel free to use or discard as you wish.
Please check out my review of the Strength Stat if you liked this article.