Level Up (A5E) Passive Skill Checks- Which skills can be checked passively?

Corinnguard

Explorer
The A5e character sheet mentions that Stealth, Insight and Perception can be checked passively under certain circumstances. However, there appears to be a fourth skill that can be picked and done passively by the PC. So aside from the three established passive skills, what other skills can be checked passively?
 

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Corinnguard

Explorer
All skills? So there are circumstances where just about any skill can be done passively? I was under the impression that an active skill check was one where the PC was consciously performing a skill while a passive skill check was more of a subconscious thing. Passive Insight representing the 'gut feeling' we all have from time to time, for instance.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I don't think the rules say that passive checks are subconscious anywhere?

Passive skills represent things done on autopilot. It's the current version of "taking 10". While perception and insight are undoubtedly the most common examples by far, any skill can be used in that way.
 


Stalker0

Legend
One question I have about passive skills, since LU can allow for some very high passive scores (the 5th level ranger/fighter in my game has a Passive Perception of 30....not exaggerating).

If I call for an active perception check, and its lower than their passive score, can they automatically use their passive score instead? Aka can an active check actually be lower than a passive score?
 

Anselm

Adventurer
One question I have about passive skills, since LU can allow for some very high passive scores (the 5th level ranger/fighter in my game has a Passive Perception of 30....not exaggerating).

If I call for an active perception check, and its lower than their passive score, can they automatically use their passive score instead? Aka can an active check actually be lower than a passive score?
Afaik that interpretation is not in the rules anywhere. People are perfectly able to run things that way if they want but doing so always seemed step on the toes of abilities that have a "minimum roll". Eg: human trait resident expert or Reliable Talent in O5E.


I prefer passive skills to give hints in addition to the places they are specifically roled against as a DC. Eg: passive perception is the DC for stealth checks but additionally with a trap noticed by passive perception, the character notices something amiss in the doorway, rather than "there's a trap there!".
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
Afaik that interpretation is not in the rules anywhere. People are perfectly able to run things that way if they want but doing so always seemed step on the toes of abilities that have a "minimum roll". Eg: human trait resident expert or Reliable Talent in O5E.
actually, in o5e, according to crawford himself, your passive perception IS the floor for your perception (22:20 for the start of passive perception, 23:20 for when he starts explaining it's the floor) - the reasoning seems to be the act of perceiving is something you're always doing, and so it doesn't matter if you roll low, since you're always perceiving, which would also mark it as an exception to most other skills meaning it only sort of steps on the toes of other features. so if a5e is the same in this respect (which...i have no idea if it is), then...yeah that ranger/fighter is seeing into the dreaming lmao

...i'm starting to see why pathfinder 2e separated perception from the rest of the skills. also, good lord, 30 passive perception at level 5? how did he manage that?
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
actually, in o5e, according to crawford himself, your passive perception IS the floor for your perception (22:20 for the start of passive perception, 23:20 for when he starts explaining it's the floor) - the reasoning seems to be the act of perceiving is something you're always doing, and so it doesn't matter if you roll low, since you're always perceiving, which would also mark it as an exception to most other skills meaning it only sort of steps on the toes of other features. so if a5e is the same in this respect (which...i have no idea if it is), then...yeah that ranger/fighter is seeing into the dreaming lmao

...i'm starting to see why pathfinder 2e separated perception from the rest of the skills. also, good lord, 30 passive perception at level 5? how did he manage that?

I really, really don't like that ruling.

Also... 30 at level 5? That's just silly.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
I really, really don't like that ruling.

Also... 30 at level 5? That's just silly.
honestly my biggest problem with it is that perception is otherwise just a regular skill. if perception were a separate thing (like it is in pathfinder 2e) i wouldn't mind it so much since there is a logic to it, but as is...yeah, it's dumb. i wouldn't be surprised if a5e ignores it.

also yeah, i agree that it's silly, that's why i wanted to know how that ranger/fighter in stalker0's game managed it
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
honestly my biggest problem with it is that perception is otherwise just a regular skill. if perception were a separate thing (like it is in pathfinder 2e) i wouldn't mind it so much since there is a logic to it, but as is...yeah, it's dumb. i wouldn't be surprised if a5e ignores it.

also yeah, i agree that it's silly, that's why i wanted to know how that ranger/fighter in stalker0's game managed it

Passive Perception being "minimum perception" doesn't really work very well in O5e. For example, the listed dc to spot a Pit Trap is 10. So therefore, EVERY PC (other than the most foolishly low Wis) will ALWAYS spot EVERY pit trap. If not the entire party (in my experience, it would be the entire party) than MOST of the party will spot it, no roll needed.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
Passive Perception being "minimum perception" doesn't really work very well in O5e. For example, the listed dc to spot a Pit Trap is 10. So therefore, EVERY PC (other than the most foolishly low Wis) will ALWAYS spot EVERY pit trap. If not the entire party (in my experience, it would be the entire party) than MOST of the party will spot it, no roll needed.
i mean by the rules that would happen anyway since passive perception can check for traps in passing regardless, but yeah i see what you mean
 

Anselm

Adventurer
actually, in o5e, according to crawford himself, your passive perception IS the floor for your perception (22:20 for the start of passive perception, 23:20 for when he starts explaining it's the floor) - the reasoning seems to be the act of perceiving is something you're always doing, and so it doesn't matter if you roll low, since you're always perceiving, which would also mark it as an exception to most other skills meaning it only sort of steps on the toes of other features. so if a5e is the same in this respect (which...i have no idea if it is), then...yeah that ranger/fighter is seeing into the dreaming lmao

...i'm starting to see why pathfinder 2e separated perception from the rest of the skills. also, good lord, 30 passive perception at level 5? how did he manage that?
I am aware and that's the reason I mention it's not in the books themselves. Crawford can play his game how he wants but with things like observant existing that up the passive score, there's no connect between it and what the dice could give you. Additionally, rogue's reliable Talent is no longer a new ability at level eleven as they always had exactly that with a passive floor .
 

Corinnguard

Explorer
I don't think the rules say that passive checks are subconscious anywhere?

Passive skills represent things done on autopilot. It's the current version of "taking 10". While perception and insight are undoubtedly the most common examples by far, any skill can be used in that way.
Basically passive skills are skills that are used so often by the PC that they become rote behavior. A PC with Passive Acrobatics is someone who has constantly practiced acrobatics in and out of combat to the point where they don't need to consciously perform them. They just do it. ;)
 

Anselm

Adventurer
i mean by the rules that would happen anyway since passive perception can check for traps in passing regardless, but yeah i see what you mean
Not necessarily. You can treat results of a passive differently than what you rolled because it's something that happens while the PC is doing others things. With the pit trap example. "You're walking along the dark corridor and notice some broken floor tiles leading into an area of debris covering a section of the floor" invites the players to investigate and use their abilities to make rolls to discover the pit trap. Much better than, "your passive perception is higher than the DC so you notice the pit trap on the floor." One solves the problem, one invites the players to look for the problem and then solve it themselves.
 

Anselm

Adventurer
good lord, 30 passive perception at level 5? how did he manage that?
Just theory crafting here but...

Base of 10
proficiency +3
Steely Mien: watchful eye +5
Familiar terrain gets expertise (+3) and +2 to passive while in that terrain but that's conditional.
Perceptive stance could give +3
Intuitive +5
+ Whatever the wisdom mod is?
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
Not necessarily. You can treat results of a passive differently than what you rolled because it's something that happens while the PC is doing others things. With the pit trap example. "You're walking along the dark corridor and notice some broken floor tiles leading into an area of debris covering a section of the floor" invites the players to investigate and use their abilities to make rolls to discover the pit trap. Much better than, "your passive perception is higher than the DC so you notice the pit trap on the floor." One solves the problem, one invites the players to look for the problem and then solve it themselves.
That's how I use it. passive perception should not give you the sane results as active checks. More like hints (and detail granularity - the higher the PP, the greater the hint detail).

i mean by the rules that would happen anyway since passive perception can check for traps in passing regardless, but yeah i see what you mean

In the very least, pit traps should have a higher dc to spot. The current rules suggest that they are all obvious, which would kinda defeat their whole point. Even when you do what I suggest above. (Though it works better that way).
 

Li Shenron

Legend
All skills? So there are circumstances where just about any skill can be done passively?

Theoretically, yes. It is up to the DM to decide.

I was under the impression that an active skill check was one where the PC was consciously performing a skill while a passive skill check was more of a subconscious thing. Passive Insight representing the 'gut feeling' we all have from time to time, for instance.

Personal interpretation.

Passive skills represent things done on autopilot.

Personal interpretation.

actually, in o5e, according to crawford himself, your passive perception IS the floor for your perception (22:20 for the start of passive perception, 23:20 for when he starts explaining it's the floor) - the reasoning seems to be the act of perceiving is something you're always doing, and so it doesn't matter if you roll low, since you're always perceiving

Personal interpretation.

Basically passive skills are skills that are used so often by the PC that they become rote behavior. A PC with Passive Acrobatics is someone who has constantly practiced acrobatics in and out of combat to the point where they don't need to consciously perform them. They just do it.

Personal interpretation.

Not saying that you should NOT use your personal interpretations, or that these interpretations have something wrong, but really all of these are just something you are adding to the rules on your own volition.

This is the main text in PHB:

"A passive check is a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. Such a check can represent the average result for a task done repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over and over again, or can be used when the DM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster."

Ignore the second usage because that is clearly a meta/out-of-narrative decision of the DM (who could also secretly roll the dice on the player's behalf to keep the result secret, the DM can but doesn't have to use this option).

The only narrative explanation of a passive check mentioned in the PHB is repetitiveness of the task. It doesn't mention (un)consciousness, autopiloting, providing a minimum result in general.

Even the interpretation of "you're always perceiving" is misleading. Yes, you are always perceiving something as long as you are awake, because your eyes are open and your hearing never stops... but you are not necessary always searching for traps or hidden stuff. Otherwise you could say that you are also always using your muscles therefore you should be granted minimum 10 in all Athletics or Acrobatics, and as you are also always using your mind you should be granted minimum 10 in all Knowledge. If that's how you like playing the game, go for it, just be prepared that you'll remove a large chunk of randomness from the game.

The RAW doesn't imply all this stuff. Again, do what you want, but don't pretend it's automatically implied by the PHB because it's not.

OTOH, the DMG has a bunch of additions (see "Secret Door", "Concealed Door" and "Detecting and Disabling a Trap" sections) which unfortunately do seem to dictate things more strictly, and not in a good way because they do force a certain playstyle while the whole 5e edition was conceived around the principle of... not dictating playstyles. But then fortunately enough, the whole DMG is written with a tone about helping the DM, so you can argue that the DMG as a whole is more a bunch of suggestions than strict rules. Either way, rule zero still gives the DM full leverage on whether an ability check is needed in the first place, before you even ask if it's resolved actively or passively, and this is more than enough to wash away a DM's worries on passive checks.

It is also useful to remember that the RAI behind passive checks is a lot more grounded in metagaming than narrative, with the latter being more a post-justification of it. It is primarily meant as a DM tool to avoid a situation where a paranoid player would constantly ask for checking the same thing over and over, such as the proverbial Rogue wanting to check for traps every few steps, possibly to get revenge against a DM herself guilty of placing traps in places too random to guess reasonably. The passive check rule allows a player to get their PC covered by saying "I will repeatedly check for traps while we are in this area" without worrying about guessing the exact location, and without annoying everyone with a hundred useless rolls (note: this is not the only method, because a DM who wants to maintain randomness could also simply ask one active check and say that it covers the whole area).

You can certainly allow your PCs to have passive perception ON for everything, all the time. But there is no reason for another DM to feel forced to consider you repeatedly searching for traps AND repeatedly watching out for secret doors AND repeatedly staying alert for stealthy monsters... another DM can very much say that you have to say what you're doing repeatedly, and there's a limit to how many things you can do repeatedly at the same time, and they wouldn't be playing outside the rules.

It is only when you start adding your personal interpretations, that you bind yourself to consequences, but that's your choice and doesn't have universal validity.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Personal interpretation.



Personal interpretation.



Personal interpretation.



Personal interpretation.
This is a little rude.
This is the main text in PHB:

"A passive check is a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. Such a check can represent the average result for a task done repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over and over again, or can be used when the DM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster."
Especially when you're talking about the wrong game.
 


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