[RPG] Is it really possible to represent a ‘genius’ character completely accurately


In this thread, we had several examples of many ways to role-play a character that's smarter than its player. Many suggested letting the DM give information to the player that the character could reasonably be able to have/figure out.

However, how far is too far?

Letting a character figure out a puzzle or two seems reasonable, but what about someone coming up with an advanced algorithm that continuously predicts how long any given quest will take to within a few hours? I mean, I have no idea if something like that would even be possible, but as characters are capable of attaining levels of intelligence that are far beyond what could be expected of a human, how can we tell what they'd be possible of?

Assuming a base 18, +2 racial bonus, +5 from 20 levels, +3 from age, then the max non-magical intelligence for a human would be 28 in Pathfinder. Assuming this number represent an IQ of 200 with the maximum amount of life experience and advanced academic training, and assuming that an intelligence of 10 would be average human without anything but basic knowledge, then what would a character with an intelligence of 39 (same as previous, with +5 from wish and +6 from magic items) be capable of? Personally, I couldn't comprehend what it would be like to live in the head of the first person, let alone someone who could outwit him.

So, getting back to the question;

Has anyone had any experience with this? If you have given players access to knowledge the character 'should' have, then what kind of information did you give them, and do you feel that it was too much? If it was too much, was it because it disrupted the game, or because you felt that such a character wouldn't able to come up with such things?

Best Answer

Depends on what improves the fun of the table

For a fairly trivial example, contact other plane plus some really basic statistics should be capable of knowing anything with high degrees of accuracy. Someone with 30+ Intelligence and maxed ranks in Spellcraft should probably not have any trouble figuring it out.

But not only is this unfun, if the player knows everything, it’s almost impossible for the DM to handle. He has to come up with answers to all these questions, even things that he never planned on fleshing out (or, at least, expected prior warning if it were likely to become necessary to flesh out).

So there are limits on how smart your character can be before it starts getting in the way of the table. Where that limit is, however, depends largely on the tables itself. I actually know people who actually have characters that do statistical analysis of contact other plane responses, and their DM is ready for that. I think that’s crazy, but they enjoy the game. I wouldn’t allow it at my table, nor would I enjoy it if I were another player in a game where that kind of thing was going on.

But I think it is impossible to generalize this across all tables.

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