I won’t bore you with the details of my Teifling Psion character, but I did want to mention an issue I’m having role playing to his ability scores. In attempt to min/max the character, he wound up with a really high Intelligence and Charisma, average Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and pretty low Wisdom. Sine super-human intelligence and charisma generally don’t go with substandard wisdom, and I have been struggling with what this means to role play. When I created the character I imagined a too-cool Psi-Cop like Bester from Babylon 5…a character that comes in to a scene make everybody nervous with his creepy and unflappable demeanor. However Bester was quite perceptive and empathic (but not very sympathetic), which means that kind of character needs a good wisdom to go along with the brains and personality.
If you were a fan of Bablyon 5 I hope you’ll follow me to my point, and that is, I think I should play my character more like Emperor Cartagia. The Emperor was cunning (high Int) and a natural leader (high Cha), but a touch mad, refused to listen to reason, and didn’t have of a lot of “street smarts.” I don’t want to play my character exactly like the evil emperor, because he’s not chaotic, but there are definitely some lessons I’ve learned. To play to my character’s low Wis, I am going to make him more trusting and naive (grew up sheltered by a magical organization). On the battlefield, I will have him make less optimal choices…. but more importantly, he’ll be less flexible. Since he’s smart and lawful, it’s in his nature to plan a few rounds ahead, but with a low wisdom and high charisma, he’ll be too self-sure and self-absorbed to doubt his plans, even in the face of contrary evidence…. But not too much, since he is a Hero.
In my experience low scores in the “soft” abilities are much harder to role-play than high ones. When I play a character with a much higher Charisma than me, I can still try to make an impassioned speech and let the ability bonus make up for my own shortcoming. With Intelligence, I can just assume that the character can figure out a puzzle or translate some old runes. And with Wisdom, a good Sense Motive check can see through a NPC plot better than I could on my own. But when the scores are low, that means I have to limit what I do and the types of conclusions my character arrives at. It’s hard enough keeping meta-game knowledge out, but pretending not to know something is tough.
What strategies have you guys found useful for playing slow-witted characters? Are there any fast rules? With strength it’s easy… there’s only a certain amount the character can lift.