D&D 5E Applying advantage to passive Perception

We know tools can grant advantage on ability checks when situationally appropriate. I have no issues with tools being alive / living things counting as tools. So I can parse the mechanic as "The guard uses her [Trained Dog] tool to gain advantage during watch tonight."

I also know how intelligent a well trained dog can be, but my answer might be different with other animals. Training a first generation tyrannosaurus is probably a whole different kettle of fish with totally different instincts and capacity to be trained. Ultimately, it depends on how the player presents the scenario to me. I might allow them to Work Together, or I might ask them to roll separately. Whatever I decide, I try to be as consistent as possible so my players can make informed decisions in the future.
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


I too just have the PC, who wants to be sneaky, just roll a Stealth check and just compare that check to anything's Passive Perception when it comes to being sneaky, scouting out a head of an enemy party, whatever.

In one of the sessions, I DM'd, the Ranger, Revised/Beastmaster Conclave, was going to have his Black Panther scout out a Bandit camp outside an abandoned Druidic ruin. Now before, both the Ranger and Warlock PC had a boss fight encounter against an Alpha Warg and its pack. So, everyone was fully aware that these Bandits would have a pack of Wargs patrolling. To avoid the Warg's getting a +5 to their passive perception, the Warlock PC used Presdigitation to mask the Black Panther's scent with something that sensed foul or something. This would apply disadvantage on the Warg's Keen Sense of smell.

Now granted, the Black Panther has Expertise in Stealth, but the Ranger is level 3 so its PB score is only currently +2. Now granted, I'm not sure if Expertise would've helped out much, but the Warlock player enjoyed the idea of doing this. So this allowed the Black Panther to overcome the Warg's Passive Perception and then the Black Panther scouted everything out and reported the layout/bandit/warg composition to the Ranger.

Then after a quick Minor Illusion of a rabbit, with making it smell like a rabbit via Presdigitation again, the Warlock was able to have all the Warg's chase it far from the camp. Since the Alpha Warg was dead from the prior fight before, there was nothing there to wrangle the Warg pack back to the camp, which left only a few bandits and two archers, on guard posts, facing the camp's enterance.


...You are absolutely right about the distance modifier. It's not something that the core 5e rule does or even support, but a DM at our tables just had us spotted by Winter Wolves from across a 100 meters chasm as if we had been right next to them, and it is a problem for verisimilitude, at least IMHO...
I use three range categories: Short (30 feet or less), Medium (30+ to 100 feet), long (over 100 ft). You get a -2 to medium and -5 to long. This applies to sight, hearing, and smell - but not taste or touch.


Great Old One
I use three range categories: Short (30 feet or less), Medium (30+ to 100 feet), long (over 100 ft). You get a -2 to medium and -5 to long. This applies to sight, hearing, and smell - but not taste or touch.

Just out of curiosity, you apply the same categories for all 3 senses ? Even animals with a great sense of smell can't match the range on visuals especially in daylight, I think, wheras it completely inverts in darkness (although shining a light outside at night can get you seen miles away, etc.). This is why I think 5e was right to just let it drop and let the DM rule based on exact circumstances.

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases