D&D 5E Is "Passive" (for Passive Perception) really the right term??

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I still don't see how it follows that 10 is thus a bad number to use.

Well, before I continue, do you accept the premise that there is a difference between a PC trying to listen (active) and a PC who happens to hear something (passive)? If you can't accept that, there's no point in continuing.
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Sure, the "floor" ruling was something Jeremy "Shield Master" Crawford said once so it needed addressing since a lot of people took that and ran with it as if the man can do no wrong despite doing wrong constantly. It works to say that in combat, but it's a meaningless distinction. Yeah, the hidden creature already beat your passive Perception with its Stealth check - that's why it's hidden. If you roll less than your own PP on a Search action, you still don't see it - duh! But effectively you can do no worse than your passive Perception since you're always alert to danger in combat, making it a floor. But again, meaningless distinction since the creature remains hidden anyway.
Ok, I see what you are saying.

It isn't that the roll can't be below 10, but that since 10 didn't do the job before, rolling worse than that really doesn't matter.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
So, do you have:

Passive Acrobatics?
Passive Animal Handling?
Passive Arcana?
Passive Athletics?
and so on?
I know you weren't talking to me, but I think I get what Jeremy meant by floor.

The only passive I use, besides passive Perception, is passive Survival. I like to do this for navigation checks because I want to keep the check result hidden. I roll for the terrain as a contest against the navigator's score. A success means the party went in the desired direction whereas a failure means they went in some other direction which I determine randomly. I don't want the players to know which is which, so I keep the result secret. The upshot of this is that the navigator has a "floor" which might let them reliably navigate through certain terrain types and conditions.

If not, why does Perception deserve a "floor" and not the others?
I don't think it's a matter of deserving. I can only speculate that Jeremy was explaining the rules with an orientation towards combat, but completely failed to make that clear. Here's a link to the infamous podcast where he says "floor" at 23:39. However, at about 11:39, near the beginning of the Sage Advice segment, he states that a "mechanistic" approach to stealth, which he typifies as that presented in 4th Ed., works "primarily" in combat. He says this while prefacing his remarks on the mechanics of stealth in 5E by talking about why the decision was made to put stealth more firmly in the hands of the DM.

So basically, Perception has a "floor" in combat because everyone is alert to danger in combat unless they are incapacitated or the like. Outside of combat, having a "floor" depends on whether your character is alert or whether some other task is occupying their attention.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I know you weren't talking to me, but I think I get what Jeremy meant by floor.

The only passive I use, besides passive Perception, is passive Survival. I like to do this for navigation checks because I want to keep the check result hidden. I roll for the terrain as a contest against the navigator's score. A success means the party went in the desired direction whereas a failure means they went in some other direction which I determine randomly. I don't want the players to know which is which, so I keep the result secret. The upshot of this is that the navigator has a "floor" which might let them reliably navigate through certain terrain types and conditions.


I don't think it's a matter of deserving. I can only speculate that Jeremy was explaining the rules with an orientation towards combat, but completely failed to make that clear. Here's a link to the infamous podcast where he says "floor" at 23:39. However, at about 11:39, near the beginning of the Sage Advice segment, he states that a "mechanistic" approach to stealth, which he typifies as that presented in 4th Ed., works "primarily" in combat. He says this while prefacing his remarks on the mechanics of stealth in 5E by talking about why the decision was made to put stealth more firmly in the hands of the DM.

So basically, Perception has a "floor" in combat because everyone is alert to danger in combat unless they are incapacitated or the like. Outside of combat, having a "floor" depends on whether your character is alert or whether some other task is occupying their attention.
I'm trying to think of something more distracting than, say, a life or death struggle with regards to noticing things...
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm trying to think of something more distracting than, say, a life or death struggle with regards to noticing things...
The whispers of the Far Realm of Urongogoron that suffuse the summoning chamber. They draw the attention of humanoids in the chamber such that their passive Perception cannot be used to notice threats. For example.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
The whispers of the Far Realm of Urongogoron that suffuse the summoning chamber. They draw the attention of humanoids in the chamber such that their passive Perception cannot be used to notice threats. For example.
I mean, I guess, but I'm also thinking of how movies depict combat- chaotic messes with shaky cam, lots of movement all over the place, explosions (and the temporary loss of vision and hearing that go along with them).

You enter a large, dark chamber, and suddenly you see an immense shadow with burning red eyes, a dark cloak like wings, and a flaming whip, and in this situation, with a Balrog hanging off of your shorts, you can spot a goblin trying to sneak up on you...but maybe not outside of combat?

Just having a little difficulty wrapping my head around it.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I know you weren't talking to me, but I think I get what Jeremy meant by floor.

The only passive I use, besides passive Perception, is passive Survival. I like to do this for navigation checks because I want to keep the check result hidden. I roll for the terrain as a contest against the navigator's score. A success means the party went in the desired direction whereas a failure means they went in some other direction which I determine randomly. I don't want the players to know which is which, so I keep the result secret. The upshot of this is that the navigator has a "floor" which might let them reliably navigate through certain terrain types and conditions.
No worries, glad you chimed in!

I also like passive scores for Animal Handling. PCs often ride horses all the time and no check is really needed, but even if they decide to gallop over difficult terrain, a 10+ modifier for repeated checks might be enough for some PCs, but not enough for others.

I don't think it's a matter of deserving. I can only speculate that Jeremy was explaining the rules with an orientation towards combat, but completely failed to make that clear. Here's a link to the infamous podcast where he says "floor" at 23:39. However, at about 11:39, near the beginning of the Sage Advice segment, he states that a "mechanistic" approach to stealth, which he typifies as that presented in 4th Ed., works "primarily" in combat. He says this while prefacing his remarks on the mechanics of stealth in 5E by talking about why the decision was made to put stealth more firmly in the hands of the DM.
Yeah, I recently listened to that this last week, part of what spawned the thread LOL!

So basically, Perception has a "floor" in combat because everyone is alert to danger in combat unless they are incapacitated or the like.
IMO they shouldn't, though. JC comments in that podcast about rolling once for Stealth and not rerolling IIRC (I was only listening "passively" so I might have missed it or misunderstood. ;) ). If the PCs are entering an area where the DM wants to determine how well they are paying attention to their surroundings, they should roll once and that is their roll for the scene unless they use their action to reroll maybe?

Like other contested rolls, Hide vs. Perception should be a contested roll when the time comes. Using the default 10 is not something that is sitting well with me anymore, personally.

The longer this discussion goes, the more I am convinced with "passive" (not active) should be 5+ or not even an option. In regards to the Passive (repeated/secret), I don't do "secret" in the manner of not allowing players to roll, and repeated really only matters at that moment, so I might as well have them roll...
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
90%+ of the time, I use it for routine checks. When a secret check is required, I just have the player roll behind the DM screen so only I see the result.

FWIW, I didn’t mean “secret” in the sense of the player not knowing the outcome, but rather in the sense of a player not knowing anything is up.

If there’s a secret door, and I say, “Frank, would you roll some dice behind my screen?” all the players are immediately on alert that there’s something going on, which leaves them with the choice of either acting on it or not, neither of which is very satisfying.

I will say, I really prefer to not use passive perception at all. Or even most “perception checks”. There’s no player declarations. It’s dissatisfying if they find It (whatever It is) without doing anything, and it’s dissatisfying if they never know it exists. It’s just…RNG.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
FWIW, I didn’t mean “secret” in the sense of the player not knowing the outcome, but rather in the sense of a player not knowing anything is up.

If there’s a secret door, and I say, “Frank, would you roll some dice behind my screen?” all the players are immediately on alert that there’s something going on, which leaves them with the choice of either acting on it or not, neither of which is very satisfying.

I will say, I really prefer to not use passive perception at all. Or even most “perception checks”. There’s no player declarations. It’s dissatisfying if they find It (whatever It is) without doing anything, and it’s dissatisfying if they never know it exists. It’s just…RNG.
I disagree with the latter assertion about there being no player declaration. There actually is declaration as I laid out upthread. It'll just tend to happen, say, when the PCs enter the dungeon and remains so until they stop to explore something in more detail, if they say they want to change the task they are undertaking while traveling the adventure location, or if combat breaks out.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
FWIW, I didn’t mean “secret” in the sense of the player not knowing the outcome, but rather in the sense of a player not knowing anything is up.

If there’s a secret door, and I say, “Frank, would you roll some dice behind my screen?” all the players are immediately on alert that there’s something going on, which leaves them with the choice of either acting on it or not, neither of which is very satisfying.
Yeah, I get that.

If a player has their character act because I asked them to roll a die, I immediately tell them "Nope. You can't use your own paranoia to justify what your character is doing." I don't allow it and if a player insists on pulling that crap I ask them to leave.

I will say, I really prefer to not use passive perception at all. Or even most “perception checks”. There’s no player declarations. It’s dissatisfying if they find It (whatever It is) without doing anything, and it’s dissatisfying if they never know it exists. It’s just…RNG.
Yep, it can be difficult at times.
 

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