Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Superhuman Intelligence

My daughter wanted to watch Mr. Peabody & Sherman yesterday on Netflix, and I liked how they portrayed Mr. Peabody’s hyper intelligence, similar to how it’s portrayed in various current depictions of Sherlock Holmes. You slow down the world to see how quickly the character is able to calculate a number of factors simultaneously. As with all things, this got me thinking about gaming...

In Sentinels of Echo City, Mr. Sherman would have an INT score somewhere around 18, giving him amazing-level intellect. I was trying to figure out how to use this in the game, and I think the solution is tying hyper intelligence to stunts. As a character with INT 14+, you are able to use your INT score in place of any other attribute when you use a Resolve point as a stunt.

For instance, you are punching a foe, and you only have STR 6. You’re going to have a base modifier of +0 with that punch. However, your INT 18 (+6) allows you to quickly determine that your foe is leaning just a little to the left; you are able to immediately deduce that he must have suffered a ligament sprain in his right knee (probably a football injury - you know statistically speaking that these injuries are due to football-related hits 63% of the time, so you’d take the odds on this one - and the scars on his knuckles are characteristic of those experienced by offensive linemen, probably played right guard based on the uneven distribution of scarring between his hands). If you place your punch 7.2” lower than you were going to, you can hit a muscle group that has been overcompensating for that old injury, causing a ripple effect that will deal quite a bit of pain.

You just replaced your STR modifier (+0) with your INT modifier (+6) on the attack and damage rolls for that punch, and still get to take the +1d6 to the damage roll as well. That was a resolve point well spent, and reflects the coolness of hyper intelligence.

In the same way, you could sub your INT in for your DEX (you normally wouldn’t be able to roll a DEX check to balance on the tightrope, but you were able to successfully gauge the wind speed to use it to your advantage and steady your walk) or CON (you cannot hold your breath for that long, but by quickly gathering bubbles that had gathered on nearby seaweed, and using a clamshell you quickly modify to  inhale them, you are able to give yourself another minute of air). You can use this for a CHA check (normally, you wouldn’t be very persuasive in this situation, but your awareness of the target’s tattoo, and its linkage to a specific military branch, and your ability to quickly ask about his service in that, specifically recalling the heroic deeds his platoon carried out in May of last year, allows you to endear yourself to this officer at this moment) or a straight up STR check (you can’t hold up the collapsing bridge, of course, but you could use a piece of debris and perfect leverage to erect a temporary buttress that will prevent the collapse for 7.8 seconds more, allowing the civilians to escape).

Suddenly, I really want to play a character with hyper intelligence!

By the way, these concepts will eventually make their way into the game… probably in the GMs guide....