Wisdom describes a character's willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition, whereas intelligence represents the ability to analyze information. An "absent-minded professor" has low wisdom and high intelligence. A simpleton with low intelligence might nevertheless be very perceptive (have high wisdom). Wisdom is important for clerics and druids, affecting the strength and number of their spells, and is also significant for paladins and rangers. It is very important for monks as well, modifying many of their abilities. The wise character is capable of intuitively understanding others, occasionally having insights into their motivations.

The base wisdom score is used to determine the highest level spell that divine casters (clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers) can learn. This maximum spell level is the score minus ten.

The wisdom modifier is added to will saving throws and to the DC of spells cast by a divine caster. In addition, divine casters gain bonus spell slots based on this modifier; for details see ability modifier. Furthermore, the wisdom modifier is added to the heal, listen, and spot skills.