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


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The thing about combat actions is that there is another party involved.
but the same could be said about cutting wood or playing basketball or (not really) fixxing a car (I can't do that one never could but I will use it as an example anyway)

my parents were car peeps my mom slightly less then my dad... but my Dad was a mechanic for 40ish years. He can describe how to take apart an engine (as long as it's pre computer integration) and put it back togather but he can't physically do it any more.

so again... you can tell me how you look for a trap, how you hide in the shadow, how you hide in the closet, how you hide under the tab;e/bed... it's still a skill check
 

When I go to the bar, I will simply ask for a beer. Because naturally the bartender knows what I mean.

Hey, I wanted a pilsner, not an IPA.
at some bars 'beer' is the only one they have... but most have many. BUT if you ask for a sex on the beach they wont ask you how you want it made they will assume you mean the default way

IF I go into burger king and order a whopper and say nothing else I can't complain "I meant with no onions heavy pickles"
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Of course I would allow a saving throw if you walked into the trap.

I've just finished catching up on the thread after the weekend, and this is one of many examples of you projecting bad faith play onto your interlocutor.

You can literally see in the post you quoted that I acknowledge you might have allowed the save. That doesn't actually address my point in anyway, because you wouldn't allow the check to detect the trap.

I noticed a couple of people have similarly distorted my example of the assassin in the alcove to turn it into some gotcha scenario where an evil viking hat DM is looking for an opportunity to stab a poor PC in the back if they don't say the magic words, rather than an example of a situation where a character can automatically see a previously completely hidden foe if they move into the right position. If they simply participate in play by describing what their character does or attempts to do, thereby giving the DM enough information to picture the scene and adjudicate their actions.

Because you are saying it is "an example of a situation where a character can automatically see a previously completely hidden foe if they move into the right position." Well, if there is a "right position" then there is a "wrong position" and what happens to the PC if they move into the wrong position? Would they not get stabbed by the assassin?

I read with a bit of frustration and bemusement the exchange where Celebrim gave examples of four garden walls, each with likely different difficulties to climb, but also potential hidden hazards, and @GMforPowergamers seemed to breeze completely past the point of the player owning his character's decision about which wall to try. I disagree with how Celebrim uses the word Railroading (I subscribe to a purely pejorative definition), but he's completely correct that if I as the DM simply let the player roll athletics and then narrate him climbing over the easiest wall, I've taken control out of the hands of the player, and implicitly communicated that there were no hazards on any of the walls.

This example seemed poor to me for a few reasons.

1) You don't need to roll athletics to climb a wall. To quote the PHB "Each foot of movement costs 1 extra foot (2 extra feet in difficult terrain) when you’re climbing, swimming, or crawling. You ignore this extra cost if you have a climbing speed and use it to climb, or a swimming speed and use it to swim. At the DM’s option, climbing a slippery vertical surface or one with few handholds requires a successful Strength (Athletics) check." So, only one of those walls could even be argued to need any check to climb. The wall with ivy is trivially climbable. The other was a brick wall, so again, trivially climbable, and only the last wall was smooth, which may require a check. Of course, that also depends on if the wall is higher than 15 ft, because at that point most parties have at least one character who can jump up and grab the top of the wall, pulling themselves up without a check and lowering a rope, which would not require a check to climb. You may even be able to reach higher if you have an ally boosting you. Which, again, would probably not require any check.

2) It was never clear to me if these were all walls facing the same direction, or different directions. If they are three walls facing three directions, then the player needs to declare which way they are going, but that has nothing to do with the walls. So it seemed to me that they had three different walls, all facing the same direction, and all leading to the same place. In which case, the only reason it matters which wall is if one of them is trapped. Which just leads to you playing Three-card monte with the players. If there are hazards on one of the walls and not the others, and I'm forcing the players to guess which wall is dangerous, for no discernible reason other than to hit the players who guess wrong with a trap.
 

It depends, but generally I don't give advantage and disadvantage very often.

For example, if I were to give advantage or disadvantage on perception, it wouldn't be because of how they described looking, it would be becuase of the environment. If they are in a heavy fog or a rainstorm, they are going to get disadvantage.
great example... weather related Adv/disadv I use
Also, I tend to forget that a crowbar gives advantage on strength checks.
I am only like 80% sure I remember that right
But, before people accuse me of being unfair, my players use the help action and work together 95% of the time with all skill actions that I can't force them not to use the help action on (usually just perception, Stealth, insight and knowledge skills) so the vast majority of the time, they are rolling with advantage anyways.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
again I disagree with your entire paragraph...
What is there to disagree with in that paragraph? That's derived in part from the rules of the game. You could possibly disagree with my statement on how to think about the approach we're describing, but disagreeing with that is flat out saying you're not going to look at something in a way that makes it understandable. Which would be odd in my view, if the goal is to understand each other.

if my player says he wants to use perception. I know out of game as the DM there is something hidden and it has a DC that he could make with a perception check, and I let him roll adding no additional actions or information then just tell him what he sees... what did I take on? what 'extra power'?
To some extent, which neither you nor your player in this example may care about, you're assuming certain things about what the character is doing in order to adjudicate a result. "Use Perception" means something to you in the fiction. You appear to just not be establishing it by describing it. If you do, then you open yourself up to player objection as to what the character actually did. Which the player may or may not do.
 

I don't say.

DM: "You open the door and in the room you see a chest."
Player: "I investigate."
DM: "Narrates investigating a chest."
DM: "And you see a bed."
Player: "I investigate!"
And so on.
yeah... I bet no DM does it that way.

why is it every counter example has the DM doing something I have never seen?
I describe everything they see and THEN they tell me what they want to do, and "I investigate" tells me just about nothing.
I guess if there is no context, no conversation and no quest/point/reason yeah I would ask "what do you mean... what are you investigating?" too...

I just can't imagine that scenero...

DM describes the bar and 3 odd npcs...says there are 6 others in the bar but doesn't give description
Player "arcana"
okay I would need to ask what they want to do and why too...

I mean, every example always starts with a goal and a PC asking to make a skill check and somehow ends up with "The player called out a skill for no reason with no context"
I would have to add to that declaration the PC investigating the bed, and then the chest, and then, and then, and then... So if I'm not supposed to add anything and just go with what they say, they need to tell me something sufficient to do that with.
again... yes in this very rare occurrance they did not provide you any context and the game has no reason to help you so you need more information... but in the form of a goal mostly
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You can literally see in the post you quoted that I acknowledge you might have allowed the save. That doesn't actually address my point in anyway, because you wouldn't allow the check to detect the trap.
If the trap is in the center of the room, you are not capable of detecting it from the doorway. That means that you need something other than, "I look for traps." If you told me, "I enter the room looking for traps as I go" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I look for traps near the middle of the room" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I got and examine the back wall of the room for traps" you would trigger the trap unless your passive perception was good enough(and most aren't) to detect the trap as you walk by.
 



I wonder if there are other games or other versions of D&D that would support you in this? Although it sounds like you and your group have figured it out, so it probably isn't worth the effort.
we also like the oWoD stuff (mostly mage, but a bit of vampire...and I have a werewolf game I really want to run) and Torg, and both old and new deadlands... i actually started in rifts
 

What is there to disagree with in that paragraph? That's derived in part from the rules of the game. You could possibly disagree with my statement on how to think about the approach we're describing, but disagreeing with that is flat out saying you're not going to look at something in a way that makes it understandable. Which would be odd in my view, if the goal is to understand each other.
your entire view of the game makes so little sense to me. I disagree with your thoughts in this case on what is and is not imporntant to have and or tell
To some extent, which neither you nor your player in this example may care about, you're assuming certain things about what the character is doing in order to adjudicate a result. "Use Perception" means something to you in the fiction. You appear to just not be establishing it by describing it. If you do, then you open yourself up to player objection as to what the character actually did. Which the player may or may not do.
and lets say that me and jim are playing and he asks for a perception check but he imagines (although I don't know why he didn't say it) that he ran his finger along the wall. I on the other hand imagine he took a deep breath looked slowly... either way he rolls gets the DC for the hidden brick and I tell him "You find a brick slightly sticking out of the wall, you think it could be removed or pushed maybe a trigger to a door maybe something hidden"

now we both imagined it very differently but we got to the same result.

who cares?
 

If the trap is in the center of the room, you are not capable of detecting it from the doorway. That means that you need something other than, "I look for traps." If you told me, "I enter the room looking for traps as I go" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I look for traps near the middle of the room" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I got and examine the back wall of the room for traps" you would trigger the trap unless your passive perception was good enough(and most aren't) to detect the trap as you walk by.
yeah the trap here seems to be that I need to poke everything with a 10ft stick... and I am no longer intrested in that type of play
 

Reynard

Legend
we also like the oWoD stuff (mostly mage, but a bit of vampire...and I have a werewolf game I really want to run) and Torg, and both old and new deadlands... i actually started in rifts
Out of curiosity, do you feel like the way you separate player and character "skill" regarding task resolution impacts your sense of immersion? Do you even want a sense of immersion? What about role play? Even though in-character soliloquies won't impact social encounters, does your group engage in them anyway?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
But the DM doesn't get to rule when Dex saves happen. The Game Rules say that. If the DM suddenly said "The orc swings his axe, make a dexterity saving throw!" I'd be more than a little confused, because the rules for an attack say that the orc should be targeting my AC.

Honestly, I've never heard of any situation where a player's action was resolved with a dex save, because dex saves represent dodging and you can't take an action that allows you to dodge an attack via a Dex Save. So, I don't see the correlation at all. And if a DM said "Okay, make a dexterity saving throw to swing on the chandelier" I very much would say, "Um... do you mean an Acrobatics check? Because Dex Saves don't work that way" and if the DM insisted that they get to decide how to resolve actions, so they decided it was a dex save, I would in fact be more than a little miffed at them.
It is the DM’s job to interpret the rules and apply them using their best judgment. If the DM rules that an action should be resolved by way of a Dex save, then a Dex save is the way by which it shall be resolved. But, if you don’t like that example, imagine I said they called for a Dex (Athletics) check when you wanted to make a Dex (Acrobatics) check because you’re proficient in acrobatics but not in athletics. Point is, the player doesn’t get to decide what mechanics are applied to resolve their own actions. And yes, sometimes that will mean some of your character’s features won’t be applicable to some actions.
Okay, so previously you said you have no idea if there is anything notable or important in the room. You zeroed in on clues thinking I was stating you set up a mystery. Now you are flipping back, the players are going to search because they don't know.

So, back to the question I asked. If there is nothing noteworthy in the room, why aren't you telling your players there is nothing noteworthy, instead of having them waste their time searching? Especially since you have a time pressure and if they knew there was nothing in here, they wouldn't bother.
But they can’t know there’s nothing in the room if they don’t search it. They can make a reasonable educated guess based on the description of the environment and the presence or absence of telegraphs therein, and decide based on that educated guess whether or not it’s worth their time to search. That’s a decision that’s up to the players to make, not me.
Second question. If there is something noteworthy in the room, then you should know it exists, correct? So why is it you can't know what they may want to find, since you know what is worth finding in the room? And if you are about to type "I don't know" then why do you not know? Because frankly, I do not understand this style of gaming where the DM has no knowledge of anything going on.
sigh I keep telling you, I do have lots of knowledge of what’s going on. What I don’t have knowledge of is what among “what’s going on” will end up being important and what won’t. To answer your question, yes, if there’s something hidden in the room, I will know it’s there.
And yet, I have found people by looking around the room, noticing what has been changed or moved, or seeing a shadow move, without having to start moving anything.
As do PCs, when the person hiding fails to beat the PCs’ passive Wisdom (Perception) with their Dexterity (Stealth) check.
How can you not know what is important? To me, it is sounding like the players are telling you what is going in the scene, not the other way around. Can you explain this because all I can imagine is the players looking at an item they found off a random chart, explaining the story they just made up about why that item is important, and then you writing it down and making that the truth of the situation. But I have to be wrong about that, right?
Yes, you are wrong about it. I set up the initial conditions, and the players do what they will from there. I can’t know if any given thing in the environment is important, because I don’t know what the players will do with it, or even if they will ever see it. Like, imagine a room hidden behind a secret door, with like a dragon-slaying arrow in it. Maybe the players will find the room and take the arrow, and maybe later they’ll encounter a dragon and use the arrow to slay it. In that case, the arrow ended up being pretty important. But when I designed the dungeon and placed a hidden room with a dragon slaying arrow in it, I didn’t know if the players would find the room, I didn’t know if they would take the arrow, and I didn’t know if they would end up encountering a dragon later. It could have ended up being entirely unimportant. We have to play to find out.
Would you tell the bard not to bother giving the fighter inspiration for the roll, since there would be no roll?
I don’t know if there will be a roll to which the the bardic inspiration could be applied.
Not every monster-infested dungeon or treacherous wilderness tries to kill you every 10 minutes on the dot, to force you to continue moving from the safe zone you just created.
I’m not sure what safe zone you’re talking about, but regardless, 10 minute dungeon turns don’t have to mean the dungeon tries to kill the PCs every 10 minutes. There are lots of dials you can adjust - how many turns pass between rolls for complications? How likely is a complication to occur when such a roll is made? How deadly are the complications? Adjusting these parameters is a great way to create dynamic difficulty; maybe the Dungeon of Terrible Deadliness has more frequent, more likely, and more deadly complications than the Cave of Mostly Just Bats. Either way, the time pressure still encourages the players to weigh their priorities and be economical with their decisions. Mayne that doesn’t sound like fun gameplay to you, and that’s fair enough, but it’s a lot of fun for me and the people I play with.
Okay, this directly contradicts what you said before. If when they declare they are moving to the center of the room to look for traps, you allow them to roll a wisdom check to try and find the trap in the center of the room before triggering it, then there is no issue. Previously, you said that it would trigger.
No, not when they move to the center of the room. When they declare an action (with clear goal and approach) that could succeed at finding the trap, could fail to find the trap, and has consequences for failure.
Now, if instead you are saying that they had the chance to take a DIFFERENT action that would have given them the chance to find the trap, but moving to the center of the room triggers it regardless, then you are ignoring my point.
Different action than what? You didn’t describe any action in the example.
See, this makes me think that with the above, you really were saying that they could take a different action.

Searching a single room is more complex than searching a single container, but it is still reasonably specific.
Then we have different definitions of reasonable specificity.
I can easily picture someone searching an entire room. In fact, I bet I could send you multiple videos of it happening, it is rather trivial.
I can imagine searching a room as a thing someone could do, but there are so many possible ways a person could go about doing so, I cannot form a clear mental picture of how a player’s character is doing so, unless they narrow it down for me or I make assumptions, and I do not want to make assumptions about the what the player wants their own character to do.
But, that isn't the uncertainty you have. The uncertainty you have is whether or not the trap was activated before they find it. So, if there were no traps in the room, is searching the entire room a reasonable action? You don't need to worry about whether or not they trigger the trap after all.
No, because it’s still too vague what they are doing in their search of the room. It leaves the fictional action an abstract haze, which doesn’t work very well for forming a consistent shared fiction.
And, since there is uncertainty in the outcome of the action... doesn't this just mean the dice get rolled? If they roll low, they stepped on the trap first, if they rolled high they found the trap first. That seems perfectly within how the rules of the game are supposed to work. If you are worried about the player complaining, then all you have to do is say "I'll let you roll, but if you roll low you will be exposed to any hazards in the room, as a consequence of not spotting them before dealing with them." And if the player still agrees to roll, then they can't turn around and complain, because you told them that would happen.
That’s a way one might choose to resolve such an action, sure. For me, it’s too abstract. Can’t form a clear mental picture of what actually happened to result in the trap being sprung or not.
They don't have to guess AS LONG AS YOU REMEMBERED to tell them the symbol is from their backstory.

And if they are making it up, they can't make it up based on it being from Tyr, unless they know it is from Tyr.
Why can’t they? They can make up whatever they want.
And this I think gets back to the point.

If a player says "I think back to my Arcane Studies" they will likely get a roll. But if they say "I think back to my Arcane Studies in Tyr" they may auto-succeed... but then they may fail other checks, because being from Tyr there are things they would never see. So the best move would be to be as vague as possible, because that allows you to roll, while never locking you out of succeeding.
You seem awfully concerned about the possibility of failure without a roll, to the point that you would rather risk a swingy d20 roll than try to pursue success without a roll. That seems absolutely bonkers to me, but it is certainly your prerogative.
Or, you get the other method, where they say "I think back to my Arcane Studies in Tyr" then later say "While in Tyr, there was an adjunct professor from Evermeet" and then even later "While in Tyr, while in the class with the adjunct professor from Evermeet, I met a student who had come from Silverymoon." Followed by "While in Tyr, while in the class with the adjunct professor from Evermeet, with the student who had come from Silverymoon, we had a rival who specialized in Diabolic studies."
See, that sounds awesome to me. We’re gradually learning more about the character through play. That’s emergent storytelling right there, which to me is what D&D is all about.
And at the end of the day, you have this convoluted set of circumstances that basically boils down to the same general thing the other player said "I think back to my Arcane Studies".
I don’t agree that it boils down to the same thing at all. Like, I guess, in a strictly mechanical sense they might be resolved similarly. But in the former case you’ve generated and established a cool story about this character and their relationships with the people they met while studying magic, while in the latter case you have nothing but a vague abstract haze.
Frankly? I got annoyed with players who constantly made up new random things, because they did so seeking advantage on the check, and it was also specific to this situation, but still general enough that they could make up something new for the next situation. I don't ban people from making up those details, but we mostly do it after the roll if we need to, or just go with the backstory they created before we started.
🤷‍♀️ Sorry you feel that way I guess.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
your entire view of the game makes so little sense to me. I disagree with your thoughts in this case on what is and is not imporntant to have and or tell
My entire view of the game? My view of the game is based on what I read in the rules books. Is your disagreement with me or with the rules?

and lets say that me and jim are playing and he asks for a perception check but he imagines (although I don't know why he didn't say it) that he ran his finger along the wall. I on the other hand imagine he took a deep breath looked slowly... either way he rolls gets the DC for the hidden brick and I tell him "You find a brick slightly sticking out of the wall, you think it could be removed or pushed maybe a trigger to a door maybe something hidden"

now we both imagined it very differently but we got to the same result.

who cares?
If it's not established, then there's not likely to be conflict as I stated.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
If the trap is in the center of the room, you are not capable of detecting it from the doorway. That means that you need something other than, "I look for traps." If you told me, "I enter the room looking for traps as I go" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I look for traps near the middle of the room" you would get a roll. If you told me, "I got and examine the back wall of the room for traps" you would trigger the trap unless your passive perception was good enough(and most aren't) to detect the trap as you walk by.

The original example was a pit under the rug in the center of the room.
The declared action was to move into the center of the room, to look for traps.
The declared result was triggering the trap, because they moved to the center of the room.
I find this to be a crappy way to resolve the situation.


Now, here is where in your examples I get frustrated.

- That means that you need something other than, "I look for traps." -> Why? What part of them looking for traps is unclear?

- If you told me, "I enter the room looking for traps as I go" you would get a roll. -> This is fine

- If you told me, "I look for traps near the middle of the room" you would get a roll. -> This is fine


- If you told me, "I got and examine the back wall of the room for traps" you would trigger the trap unless your passive perception was good enough(and most aren't) to detect the trap as you walk by. -> This is crappy and I do not like this. This means that their intent (to detect traps) was meaningless, because they declared the wrong action and it completely negates their intent with them having no possible way to know that beforehand.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
When I go to the bar, I will simply ask for a beer. Because naturally the bartender knows what I mean.

Hey, I wanted a pilsner, not an IPA.
You mean you didn’t want regular beer?

9060C768-A944-4EFD-89A4-DD19ADF8DDBD.jpeg
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It is important to note that @GMforPowergamers is coming from a very different perspective that almost has a "play to find out" quality in a weird way. Except it isn't driven by narrative, it is driven by mechanics.
The statement was that my entire view of the game "makes little sense" to them. One could play a certain way, but understand another way, particularly as that other way is right there in the rules for anyone to read.
 

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