Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wisdom vs. Intelligence

There are some people in life who are very intelligent, perhaps super-genius-level mental giants... who also happen to be unwise.  Despite all of that amazing brain power, they still make unbelievably foolish decisions.   I know several such people in the real world.  One I'm thinking of was studying to be both a doctor and a lawyer... because she could.  She had the brains to memorize and cogitate all of that stuff.  Amazing.  But then she married a biker who wound up screwing up her life and things went south from there.   Oh well.  She amounted to nothing.   But is still amazingly smart at math and figures and history and geology and all sorts of facts based things.

Conversely there are some people who are wise, but not particularly good at things that involve Big-Brains.  But they make good life decisions, and are happy people, enjoying their less brainy pursuits patiently and without stress or life-disabling anxiety.  They are peaceful souls.

So that brings to mind that in my original Elthos RPG system I used to have two Requisites, one for Intelligence and one for Wisdom, which of course was gleaned from the original D&D rules.  Intelligence was what Spell Chanters want, while Wisdom is what Clerics want.  This too was a bit overly simplified, in the sense that there could also be evil clerics, who also make very very bad life decisions.   You know the type.  Evil, wicked Clerics can do a lot of harm to others as well as themselves, raising undead, sacrificing virgins to nameless deities from the black depths, you know that sort of guy.  So it's actually really not quite right that the Cleric should, as a class, require a high requisite.  Maybe it should be that the Cleric if Good requires high, but if Evil requires low.   So the rule might be better stated as Clerics require an Extreme Wisdom, either high or low.

Now, all of this is kind of a problem for me in my new, revised, and vastly shrunk-down-to-size version of my rules system, named Elthos "One Die System".  It uses, of course you can tell, one six-sided die.  And it also has far fewer requisites... in fact the absolute minimum I could get away with.   Strength (which covers Constitution, and Endurance), Wisdom (which covers Intelligence), and Dexterity (which covers in my old system Agility).  I dispensed with Appearance, Voice and Charisma altogether.   So the ODS has three requisites.   And each of the four classes requires some minimum combination of those, as per usual for traditionalist style RPGs.

But with only one requisite, Wisdom, it makes it a bit of a challenge.  How do I, mechanically, handle the distinction between Clerics and Spell Chanters?   Well, in the ODS I don't.  I just use the same Requisite, and we kind of glide along with that, with the distinction being simply the Player's option when selecting Character class, and the slight difference that Spell Chanters require a minimum of 4 (out of 6), while Clerics require a minimum of 5 Wisdom to be eligible for those classes.   After two years of continuous play testing it has actually never shown up as a problem, nor have the Players expressed any concern about it.

So how much does it matter?   It depends.   If you are playing a Simulationist style game (see GNS Theory), it would probably matter a lot more than if you're playing a Narativist game.   In my case, since I tend toward Narativism over Simulationism, it's ok.   For other GMs it might not be ok.   But for me and my merry band of Players it's been nothing but fun, and so I'm inclined to keep the system the way it is.   With the possible exception of adopting this idea that Evil Clerics must have a low Wisdom, while Good Clerics must have a high Wisdom.


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