intelligence dnd 5e

Intelligence measures a character’s mental sharpness, ability to recall information, and skill at applying logic.

Intelligence is the primary ability for Wizards and Artificers, and an important ability for Eldritch Knight Fighters and Arcane Trickster Rogues as well.

For all these classes/subclasses, Intelligence is used as the spellcasting modifier. That means you add your Intelligence to spell attack rolls with these classes and set your spell save DC using your Intelligence modifier (8 + prof. bonus + Int mod).

Intelligence Checks

Intelligence checks can come up when you need to rely on reason, learning, past experience, or the powers of deduction. For example, estimating the value of an item, forging a document, or playing a game of skill might call for an Intelligence check.

Below, you’ll find examples of the specific skill checks associated with each Intelligence-based skill.


  • Knowledge of lore and magic

  • Recalling facts about other planes of existence and those that live there

  • Identifying symbols and magic artifacts

  • Magical creature lore

  • Detecting and disabling magical traps

  • Identifying spells that are cast (XGtE 85)


  • Recall historical events

  • Know about legendary figures

  • Recall information on ancient kingdoms

  • Understand the cultural roots of modern disputes

  • Know about recent wars


  • Finding a hidden object, doorway, etc.

  • Investigating crime scenes

  • Researching

  • Identifying weaknesses (in a person, structure, etc.)

  • Seeing through illusions

  • Confirming/disproving rumors


  • Recalling knowledge of flora or fauna

  • Understanding climate patterns

  • Reading the terrain

  • Creating natural remedies

  • Identifying spells cast by Druids or Rangers (instead of Arcana)

  • Predicting the weather (in place of Survival)

  • Identifying the exact nature of Regional Effects created by a legendary creature’s lair


  • Knowledge of deities and religious lore

  • Recalling rites, prayers, and religious symbols

  • Identifying holy magic

  • Understanding religious hierarchies and their political underpinnings

  • Identifying holy spells cast by Paladins or Clerics (instead of Arcana)

  • Recalling additional knowledge about demons, celestials, undead, and fey

  • In place of Persuasion when debating on religious grounds, or Investigation if investigating religious matters

Examples of Intelligence

  • Arcana. With a hard-earned understanding of arcana and magical lore, Elara deciphered cryptic incantations and unearthed hidden spells. The arcane energies resonated with her scholarly mind, unlocking secrets that eluded others. As she unfurled a forgotten scroll, Elara’s eyes sparkled with knowledge, a testament to her mastery over the esoteric.

  • Investigation. Thorne prowled the cobblestone streets, a master of deduction. He pieced together clues with uncanny precision. Each crime scene unfolded like a narrative, and Thorne, with a sharp mind and perceptive gaze, unveiled the hidden threads that connected disparate events. The city stood safer under the watchful eye of Thorne, which could unravel the most enigmatic mysteries.

  • Religion. Deep within an ancient temple, Elyas deciphered archaic religious iconography with scholarly reverence. She possessed an unparalleled intelligence for recognizing symbols of forgotten faiths. As he traced the weathered carvings, the divine narratives unfolded before him, revealing tales of gods long lost to time. Elyas’s astute intellect breathed life into the dormant relics, connecting the present to a bygone era.

Player’s Handbook, pg. 177-8

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