D&D General "I make a perception check."

Bolares

Hero
I had the same opinion as the OP for a LONG time. But at some point I got tired of swimming against the tide. When my players say "Insight check" or ""I make a perception check", they are just using a short hand for "I want to look for X" and stuff like that. I decided that us enjoing the game and playing together was more important than a minutia of the game or avoiding breaking immersion...
 

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As DM, I am looking for reasonable specificity from a player for what their PC is doing in a particular scene. "I make a Perception check" is just too vague, putting the onus on the DM to determine what the PC is specifically doing - and it's the player's job to determine how their character is thinking, speaking, or acting, not the DMs.
 

Reynard

Legend
I had the same opinion as the OP for a LONG time. But at some point I got tired of swimming against the tide. When my players say "Insight check" or ""I make a perception check", they are just using a short hand for "I want to look for X" and stuff like that. I decided that us enjoing the game and playing together was more important than a minutia of the game or avoiding breaking immersion...
I am more forgiving with "I make an insight check" simply because it has far narrower applications. 95% of the time that declaration comes after an NPC says something so it is pretty easy to parse "I make an insight check" as "are they lying?" The other 5% of the time is a little more nuanced, like when players are trying to determine a character or creature's intent or mood, or to size up a potential opponent.

That's different than walking into a room and saying "I make a perception check" IMO.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
"I look around" doesn't usually result in a perception check, either. I just tell them what they see.

You seem to be missing the point. If you have a behavior in play you want to see, you should reward players for engaging in it.

When they are seeking information from the environment, is there any practical reason to give more than the most basic action description? Do you give bonuses for looking around in particular ways? Do you regularly and openly give advantage or disadvantage?

"Because that's the way it should be done," is not sufficient. If the details of their action declaration are irrelevant, if you discard them, they won't bother investing the effort in considering those details.
 

"I make a perception check" is not a valid action declaration in any version of D&D. One does not "make a perception check."
I have to laugh. I see this argument come up time and time again... I would NOT want to play in a game where a DM tried to police phraseing or wording that his or her Players used.

I find that if someone understands what the speaker means in context it should not need to break the flow of game. If in the context you don't know what they want or what they mean it is better to ask for additional context then it is to rephrase...

if all night we have been seeking the mystic cup... and we get to a room with a bunch of stuff in it and someone says "I look through the room carefully, examining anything that is cup like, to see if anything close to or similar to the mystic cup is here" that's great... but if they say "Can I perception for the cup?" I get what they want, and how they want to accomplish it.

the example I used a few years ago when this same thing came up was a nonsense sound... "Grblegl" the first time someone says that at the table everyone is going to look at them funny... someone may ask if they just had a stroke... maybe some laughs... but if they go on to explain "What I mean is c" that is a GREAT time that someone as the DM needed more context... if 3 sessions later no one can understand an NPC and the same person says "Grblegl" everyone might remember and the DM might ask "So tongues again?" because that DM still is asking for confirmation... if over 7 levels of play that PC has said "Grblegl" 3 times more after those 2 and each time meant "I cast tongues and try to talk to them" and you are once again in a situation where the NPC speaks a language no PC does... and that players says "Grblegl" then you know what he wants... it has just become short hand...

at my table we not only have short hand things but we have in side jokes and jargon form previous campaigns, previous editions, and even entire non D&D games... sometimes though it isn't clear, and the DM may have to ask for more details... but most times like in most conversations you can figuree out more or less what the player wants
 

When players do this to me, I respond with: What are you doing? What does that look like? It wouldn’t be sufficient to declare “I make an attack roll” in combat without establishing the target(s), so the same should be the case for skill checks.
again... if it was round 3 of a fight, and the fighter has been fighting the same drow swordsmaster since the begining, and is only in melee with the swordsmaster... does that extra context matter to you? What if he has swung his great sword each round and still has it in his hands? does an even shorter "I attack" not relay in context "My character attempts a melee attack with my great sword against the drow swordmaster" just in less words?
 

A pet peeve here, but aren’t you describing an investigation check there, rather than a perception check?

Running fingers and methodically testing each flagstone seems much more like the 'you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues' of Investigation than the 'general awareness of your surroundings and the keenness of your senses' of Perception. I would argue that as soon as you start actively investigating, you are Investigating.

For me, Perception would indeed be 'what can I see/smell/hear?', so I'd only really need the sense they were using and nothing more.
yeah that is a whole can of worms about what skill means what... investigate/perception/tool kit and acrobatics/athletics are the go to example of "don't you mean ____" but even something like 'knowing about the saint' is that history or religon or arcana... I can make an argument for each
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I find that in OSE/Basic it is less of an issue actually. IMO, as DnD has grown, it has added NWPs, Skills, and all manner of other "abilities" to the character sheet. So when play happens, the player naturally looks to the sheet and the "things that I can do" listed there. In OSE/Basic, the character sheet is pretty sparse. So players are almost forced to describe what they want to do. There is no "Investigation" or "Perception" or anything on their sheet.

As DM, I often say, so what are you looking for? What are you doing? Are you looking anywhere specific? If they say "I search the whole room", that's fine, it takes time 1-2 turns (with wandering monster rolls possible in dungeon), and then its a d6 roll. If they were to say "I make a Perception Check, I'd say, "what are you trying to perceive?" and then time passes, and the same d6 roll...
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
This process can give way quickly to old school skill play, and if thats what you are after great. Key is making sure the players know the expectations. Also, make it interesting and not frustrating. If you have to carefully dissect every room to find the clue to move on, I'd be quickly calling for your removal as GM. So, its a two way street, if your players are looking to short cut, it might be because they find that boring.
 

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