D&D 5E High Passive Perception

fjw70

Adventurer
Are you two aware there are DMs and play groups that DOESNT WANT their game to hand out ato-detection as a game feature at all?

I mean, this is a legitimate problem.

A reply like "let them spot everything at all times" is flippantly dismissing the OP's entire reasoning. You can do better.

Sorry I am not obligated to give every possible solution. I gave my best answer. The OP can use it or not.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Reading is fundamental. In case it was forgotten, our games feature a lot of NPCs with character levels. So NPC rogues & assassins have the stealth bonuses of PCs.
The comparison to the party rogue was for illustration purposes.

So if the party rogue has little to no chance of being spotted, then NPC rogues.......... get it?

Maybe if you would actually read your first post you would see where you mentioned spotting THE PARTY ROGUE...

nice try try at the switcharoo though ;)
 

Gwarok

Explorer
Are you two aware there are DMs and play groups that DOESNT WANT their game to hand out ato-detection as a game feature at all?

I mean, this is a legitimate problem.

A reply like "let them spot everything at all times" is flippantly dismissing the OP's entire reasoning. You can do better.

Well, passive perception is by definition "Auto Detect", although a 21 hardly works in every case. Basically instead of DM's having to describe everything in absurdly game slowing detail and let the characters decide what they notice, something the DM will have to do very frequently and throw in a lot of clutter so that the players don't immediately know something is up everytime the DM mentions something, it's nice mechanic to simplify things. And if they don't like auto detect, they probably would have house ruled Passive Perception out anyways. But to have the rule, and just not like that your players have gotten theirs high enough to see most things in normal settings is sorta, I don't know, rude. I mean, the players are pretty restricted on how they can interact with the world. The DM isn't. For the DM who can literally move mountains and sink continents on a whim, to choose the option of chapping players because it makes their job just a little easier seems unfair.

As for the DM's problem, I don't see it as one. Maybe he/she had a highly trap based dungeon that a character with strong focus on perception lets the players bypass, but what's really wrong with that? You need to crack a safe, you hire an expert safe cracker. The player in this case is that expert.

I had an adventure where the players were storming a vampire lair, a friend joined and made a paladin mid adventure just as they located the nest and were about to invade it. What had been scary monsters were largely neutered by the Paladin, the players had a great time romping all over them. Which is a proper outcome when you bring the right tools for the right job. No need to force some sort of logical balance on a situation out of reflex, that would only cause the players to know that each and every encounter or challenge is going to be specifically modified to counter their tactics and no matter what special talents they focus on it won't really matter because the DM won't ever let them have a genuine edge. That makes it less likely players will bother to customize anything other than purpose driven builds for general application, which can be boring.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Are you two aware there are DMs and play groups that DOESNT WANT their game to hand out ato-detection as a game feature at all?

I mean, this is a legitimate problem.

A reply like "let them spot everything at all times" is flippantly dismissing the OP's entire reasoning. You can do better.

He asked this question, "How do you guys handle players with really high passive perception?"

I gave him an answer. A direct answer to the question he asked, explaining how we handle it in our games. I followed it up with another post mentioning we use the rule that darkness gives a -5 to the check even with darkvision.

You whining, moaning, and complaining that you don't like how I handle it in my game, which is what he asked, is not just irrelevant but rude. If he doesn't want honest answers as to others handle this issue, he shouldn't ask how others handle this issue. But given he did, you policing our answers to make sure they comply with your personal preferences is obnoxious and egotistical. You're free to tell him how you handle it in your game, but get your obsessive controlling butt out of my business telling me I can't tell him how I handle it in my game.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Well, passive perception is by definition "Auto Detect", although a 21 hardly works in every case. Basically instead of DM's having to describe everything in absurdly game slowing detail and let the characters decide what they notice, something the DM will have to do very frequently and throw in a lot of clutter so that the players don't immediately know something is up everytime the DM mentions something, it's nice mechanic to simplify things.

And if they don't like auto detect, they probably would have house ruled Passive Perception out anyways. But to have the rule, and just not like that your players have gotten theirs high enough to see most things in normal settings is sorta, I don't know, rude. I mean, the players are pretty restricted on how they can interact with the world. The DM isn't. For the DM who can literally move mountains and sink continents on a whim, to choose the option of chapping players because it makes their job just a little easier seems unfair.

Hope you don't mind that I divided your quote into two paragraphs. Definitely I empathize with you about it being better for a DM to play along with the PCs' powers rather than try to neuter them.

But your first paragraph is a bit alien to me...it almost makes it sound like you have a DMing style where you hardly describe anything unless prompted by your players asking or making a check?

It's definitely a DM skill to present information that hints at X, without outright revealing X, and doesn't take much time to convey at the table...but it *is* a skill you can improve at and master.

Don't know where you're getting "absurdly game slowing detail" and "throw in a lot of clutter" from. At least, that hasn't been my experience DMing.
 

cooperjer

Explorer
How do you guys handle players with really high passive perception? I have one that got the Observant feat and high Perception already, giving them 21 Passive Perception at level 1... How the hell do I deal with that!? They spot everything at all times...

As [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] said there are some options with asking a player to state what they are focused on.

I've had one player play a character that was a knowledge cleric and rogue with expertise in perception. She likes watching Sherlock Holmes and Elementary, as do I, so we both understood the expectations that the character will notice a lot of things without specifically stating what the character is looking for. She would not be able to play in Iserith's games because she would expect that the DM will feed her info that her character would notice without the player specifically saying what she is looking for. So that is what I did. However; I gave the player information that the character would perceive. A hidden door is a discontinuity in the wall or a series of cracks in the wall that is vaguely dwarf sized. A trap may have the indicators of dried blood, small holes in the decorations on the treasure chest, or notice that the dust on a stair case is lighter in the center than on the perimeter. The player now has new information to work with, but they still don't know how the hidden door works or how the trap triggers. In my game figuring out how a dwarven hidden door in masonry or stone works requires significant investigation. After the rogue identifies that there is a trap, well they may need to disable it or us the barbarian trap detection and disable method.

With respect to NPCs hiding I like to use a passive stealth score. Although the PH indicates a stealth check is rolled and compared to a passive perception, it also states that repetitive use of a skill can be defaulted to a passive score. So, when setting up a dungeon ambush, I'll allow the bugbears or goblins a chance to use their passive stealth score if they have a blind and ambush set for intruders. If there are two NPCs working together then they can assist their buddy and it's a passive stealth score with advantage. I will roll a stealth check if the NPCs move from their blind and do not get a couple minutes to setup a new hiding spot and use the passive stealth.

How has this played out? I have a few examples. 1) The character was busy investigating a liches library while the warlock in the party was also busy looking at a few prized books. I clearly stated that the books had a heavy layer to dust, cob webs, some white dust similar to chalk laying near the books. The warlock still picked up the books and breathed in the white chalk which was part of a trap. 2) While investigating a room it was very clear to the cleric character that a door was on a stone wall; but no other character could clearly make it out with a roll or passive score. The cleric character could not roll high enough on an investigation check to figure out how to open the door. 3) There have been a few times when the character finds the traps on a chest and succeeds in disabling them without risk. This is what the player was hopping to do.

I should mention, that if the player roll lows on the first attempt I may fail forward, or I may increase the difficulty slightly. In general, if a player asks to roll again, with out stating a new approach I feel is different enough from the first I increase difficulty by 2. If there is request for a 3rd roll with out a change in approach then I increase the difficulty by 5. I increase the difficulty by 5 for each subsequent roll and I tell the player that their character is starting to become frustrated and it's getting harder to solve this task with the same approach. Generally, at that point, they pass the task off onto another player, who needs to state a new approach, or they give up. This typically happens with lock picking and trap disabling.

A highly observant character in the group can be a lot of fun for the group. If you like the Sherlock Holmes stories, it may be a good idea to watch a few an get an idea of what a highly observant person may notice.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Ah I see, a non-standard game.

Ok.

Huh? Is it non-standard? I thought this was the norm. This is what I did back in 1e and what do when I started playing again in 5e. How else do you build your NPCs? Do you limit NPCs in your game to those in the appendices of the Monster Manual and Volo's Guide?

I'm not trying to be adversarial, I am genuinely curious to learn if building NPCs using character-building rules is non-standard, uncommon, or anything other than the norm.

To be clear, I'm referring to DMs who build or customize adventures. Those who follow published campaigns to the letter may very well be the norm now. But again, if you are building your own NPCs rather than looking up a stat block in a published adventure, how do you build them?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Well, passive perception is by definition "Auto Detect", although a 21 hardly works in every case. Basically instead of DM's having to describe everything in absurdly game slowing detail and let the characters decide what they notice, something the DM will have to do very frequently and throw in a lot of clutter so that the players don't immediately know something is up everytime the DM mentions something, it's nice mechanic to simplify things. And if they don't like auto detect, they probably would have house ruled Passive Perception out anyways. But to have the rule, and just not like that your players have gotten theirs high enough to see most things in normal settings is sorta, I don't know, rude. I mean, the players are pretty restricted on how they can interact with the world. The DM isn't. For the DM who can literally move mountains and sink continents on a whim, to choose the option of chapping players because it makes their job just a little easier seems unfair.

As for the DM's problem, I don't see it as one. Maybe he/she had a highly trap based dungeon that a character with strong focus on perception lets the players bypass, but what's really wrong with that? You need to crack a safe, you hire an expert safe cracker. The player in this case is that expert.

I had an adventure where the players were storming a vampire lair, a friend joined and made a paladin mid adventure just as they located the nest and were about to invade it. What had been scary monsters were largely neutered by the Paladin, the players had a great time romping all over them. Which is a proper outcome when you bring the right tools for the right job. No need to force some sort of logical balance on a situation out of reflex, that would only cause the players to know that each and every encounter or challenge is going to be specifically modified to counter their tactics and no matter what special talents they focus on it won't really matter because the DM won't ever let them have a genuine edge. That makes it less likely players will bother to customize anything other than purpose driven builds for general application, which can be boring.
Why can't a long nice reply like this even acknowledge how bad it is for WotC to include auto-detection as an easily attainable character power with no power to the DM to resist it, short of denying the player stuff the PHB just gave him??

I'm sick and tired of the acceptance for how the PHB gets to play good cop, and forcing DMs to play bad cop...!

When will WotC learn that absolutes need to be cushioned by "with DM approval" rules language?

When will D&D finally fully acknowledge the DM?

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Huh? Is it non-standard? I thought this was the norm. This is what I did back in 1e and what do when I started playing again in 5e. How else do you build your NPCs? Do you limit NPCs in your game to those in the appendices of the Monster Manual and Volo's Guide?

I'm not trying to be adversarial, I am genuinely curious to learn if building NPCs using character-building rules is non-standard, uncommon, or anything other than the norm.

To be clear, I'm referring to DMs who build or customize adventures. Those who follow published campaigns to the letter may very well be the norm now. But again, if you are building your own NPCs rather than looking up a stat block in a published adventure, how do you build them?
I'm running published adventures and have yet to see a single NPC with class levels in official materials.

I'm sure there is one somewhere, but they sure are not the default.

As for creating my own, I try to follow the precedent and use ready made NPC stat blocks.

There are no rogue NPCs, but there are Scouts and Assassins. And so on.

I'm sure there would have been NPCs with competitive skill bonuses, had WotC wanted them.

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

My take:

Passive perception: noticing that something is there. You don't necesserily know where exactly.

Active perception: find the exact spot where something is.

Passive investigation: A general feeling that something is amiss or not as it seems to be. Or that some clue is hidden in the obvious.

Active investigation: finding the clue. Noticing what is wrong (illusion/false appearance - as is explicitely stated in volo's monsters), noticing what exactly is not as it should be (a hidden room between two walls or so).
 

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