I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Magus isn’t the sharpest knife in the crayon box. I love her to death, but she probably didn’t earn that lab coat. More likely there’s a semi-naked arcane lab-tech tied up in the backroom somewhere, bereft of glasses and standard-issue chalk. But you know what? Magus is pretty convincing all the same. Wizard certainly seems taken in by her confidence and her fancy hair bun. She may not be all that smart, but she can exude intelligence with the best of them.

One common complaint I hear from the would-be-wizards of the world is that it’s difficult–bordering on impossible–to play a character who is more intelligent than you. How can you possibly hope to live up to a dude who’s got a higher IQ than Einstein? I mean, just look at that Int score! What normal gamer could possibly portray a 23?

As Magus so ably shows however, I don’t think that you actually have to be intelligent to act intelligent. Just check out this guy for your role model. Brainy Smurf is a smug know-it-all. He is a pedantic bore who carries a big book, uses big words, and can fit more “um actuallies” into a conversation than a team of trained neckbeards. Crucially, he is not always the guy with the good idea and the brilliant plans. His arrogance gets him into trouble, and spur-of-the-moment decisions are not his strong suit. My point is that a high Intelligence score doesn’t mean that you’ve always got a Xanatos Gambit in your back pocket. Even rocket scientists can get lost in airports. And let’s not forget that it was Frodo rather than Gandalf who figured out the riddle at the Doors of Durin.

So if you want to be true to your super-smart character, I say to worry less about being smart. Simply put on the lab coat, drop a few vague platitudes, and call mysteries “curious” or “very interesting” when you’re stumped. It doesn’t take a genius to play one.

So help me out here. What are some strategies for seeming smarter than you really are? How can you play a proper mad scientist or learned archmage at the table? Let’s hear it in the comments!


THIS COMIC SUCKS! IT NEEDS MORE [INSERT OPINION HERE] Is your favorite class missing from the Handbook of Heroes? Maybe you want to see more dragonborn or aarakocra? Then check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. You’ll become part of the monthly vote to see which elements get featured in the comic next!