Writing Extremely Intelligent/Strategic Characters

Kupotepo

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Alanis (a female Elf who will be written as the intelligent/strategic one).
Ok, everyone here from what I read she is a mage, a lover, a mediator in the team. Everyone thinks of this character as the smart mage, not Daenerys Targaryen, the commander. Sorry, @Frostorm. I cannot visualize her and cause you to explain all of this. Both of them have a dragon blood spoiler!:kaojoy:

My issue was, since such characters typically come up such complex plans, writing storyline plots to fit such a character is consequently going to be more difficult.
@Frostorm, I know who you might be interesting. You know about Nichol from Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. He usually acts with caution, but he gets emotional when his friends are getting hurt.

Also, you know about Shikamaru Nara in Naruto. He also plans an emergency plan to save the village.

@Cyberhawk, outsmart him lol.
 
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Frostorm

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Ok, everyone here from what I read she is a mage, a lover, a mediator in the team.
Which is why I start her off with a point in Cryomancy and a point in Hydromancy. Not only would an intelligent character like her see the obvious synergies of these disciplines, but Hydromancy is primarily a healing skill tree, which highlights her emotional intelligence. I also think these "master planner" type characters work well as ranged units since they will probably prefer to assess the situation from a "big picture" POV.
 

Htlaets

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There are a few ways to show not tell a smart character. An easy one is to have them work against the party before joining it for one reason or another. A video game example for that you might be familiar with: Naoto from Persona 4. They're also a good example of how a blank slate character can interact with a smart character.

Persona 4's also a good example of how a blank slate character can interact with "smart" characters. The "smart" characters set up the decisions and the on-the-ground facts of whatever situation you're in and the blank slate character makes an ultimate decision based on those facts.

Given your party make-up she'll probably be the only one setting up the party's objectives and how they'll go about them. Need to steal something from the local noble's manor? She'll be the one coming up with the game plan and the blank slate will be able to choose branch points in the plan she puts up. She'll tell you what you need to do to prepare, where your entry point will be, and how you'll avoid the guards. Or how you'll use a diversion. Or something like that.
 

Frostorm

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Given your party make-up she'll probably be the only one setting up the party's objectives and how they'll go about them. Need to steal something from the local noble's manor? She'll be the one coming up with the game plan and the blank slate will be able to choose branch points in the plan she puts up. She'll tell you what you need to do to prepare, where your entry point will be, and how you'll avoid the guards. Or how you'll use a diversion. Or something like that.
Excellent suggestion, thank you! This makes a lot of sense, it will also help reinforce her role as the group's mediator in the sense that the group is already used to listening to her suggestions. Btw, I've never played Persona 4 (mostly cuz I don't have a PlayStation) so I'm gonna have to look up this Naoto character.
 

psiDaylight

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Might be coming in late here but you need to consider the character's inner motives and personality. Why are they smart? Natural talent? Forced to study at some point? Or maybe learned all they have for a personal purpose, evil or not? You can add plenty of depth to them if you look into why they're smart and how they apply it, and once you understand what they're going for you can much better show the players how and why. Note how I said "show" as in show, not tell. This was mentioned above, I think.

One thing I noticed in my own writing is try to get to know your characters on a deep level, make a believable character then imagine how they would work with others. But ask yourself first, "why are they smart? Why are they doing what they're doing?" and even go as far as asking "what would their favorite food be, or what they do in their free time."

I personally love smart characters that are just smart because of natural talent but in reality are real lazy people with little motivation but can kick ass when needed to. See Shikamaru from Naruto as the best example there.
 

Frostorm

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I personally love smart characters that are just smart because of natural talent but in reality are real lazy people with little motivation but can kick ass when needed to. See Shikamaru from Naruto as the best example there.
This is also my favorite type of smart character. It personally resonates with me as someone who usually aces tests but never does any homework lol. My teachers would always say "You're so smart, but why don't you do any homework?!" and I'll respond with "because I did the math and I can get a C in the class if I just get X% on my tests".
 

Anyone

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Plotwise, a "genius" character can be generally one of two things:
- The Library
- The Acting Force

If the character has no primary motivation to achieve the goals, but rather works to help fulfill the goals of the main character, the genius often ends up as a library of wisdom/plans/knowledge.
If your main character wishes to steal a book from a well-guarded mansion, there's a million ways to go about it. As the Library of Knowledge, the genius character is the one who provides the protagonist, and through the protagonist the player, with the possible game paths.
The character is usually thought og as very intelligent by the player, but feels more of a reliable asset that the player can always draw on rather than an impressive genius strategist.

The Acting Force is a genius character who has their own plans, purposes and motivations that may directly run contrary to the protagonists & players, even when they are ultimately supposed to be for the protagonists benefits.
The most recognizeable feature of writing such a character is the agency - this is the character that doesn't present "options" to the player, but might even trick, lie, deceive the protagonist & player, even if for the player's benefit.
They are not a helpful tool, lying around waiting for you to prompt them to tell you what the game allows you to do.
They act, they decide, they make things happen, whether you ask them to or not.
At best, they can reveal backup plans or turn out to have manipulated you all along to avoid pitfalls or dangers your protagonist didn't even know exist.
Sometimes they might even make dramatic decisions the player wouldn't agree with in order to safeguard their own goals. (Killing someone who betrayed the party whom the protagonist indends to reconcile with in order to prevent further betrayal & traps) or literally burn down the bridge behind you under "mysterious circumstances" to give the protagonist the motivation to press on.
At worst, they can decide to split from the player, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently, because their own goals override the protagonist's and unless their goals align with the protagonist, they will pick their own path. Or they might end up deciding to betray the player or have been plotting to use the player for their own purposes all along. (Which can either lead to becoming enemies or the player having to find a way to have their goals align again.)

At the end, the Acting Force is like a force of nature, it moves regardless of what you intend based on their own motivations and finds plans to suit their goals.
The Library is an asset that makes their knowledge & plans available to the protagonist/player and steers the choices & paths the game offers.
 

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