[RPG] How to roleplay a character with a large disparity between their intelligence and wisdom


This question is tangential to the (good) question how to role-play an intelligent character.

Say you have a system that differentiates between intelligence and wisdom (dd4.0 being the obvious example; or a different mental stat – like the White Wolf game series).

How do you play characters with a large disparity between the two mental stats? What are common pitfalls and solutions?

Best Answer

A character with a High Intelligence but Low Wisdom might be incredibly book smart, but continually makes poor decisions, is absent-minded in the extreme, and tends to miss "little picture" stuff in favor of "big picture" stuff. This is the incredibly learned wizard who basically needs a handler wherever he goes due to his eccentricity. One example might be Walter Bishop from the TV show Fringe, if that makes sense.

A character with Low Intelligence but High Wisdom might be considered a dullard by society's standards, but has some matter of insight, or might be very attuned to the smaller things in life. This person might be illiterate or might be an idiot savant, but they have a way of picking up on the simple, straightforward solutions that other people miss, perhaps because they're going for the "big picture" stuff.

Those are just two popular ways to interpret the disparity in those two stats. I'm sure you could come up with other examples as well.