D&D 5E Perception and Readiness checks. Please Explain!!

Li Shenron

Legend
I still think they could clarify just a bit. For a new DM this could be (and is) confusing. They've done quite a bit to streamline the rules, for the better I think, but in their effort to smooth things out they've gone a little too far in some areas. But I do appreciate the input.

Clarifying with examples in the DMG would be good.

Precise rules however can be dangerously counterproductive for the inexperienced DM. There are way too many variables, when you add written rules it always opens up a couple of corner (or not-so-corner) cases it fails to represent properly, calling for more rules which open up more corner cases...

Just to quote the very basic case of a creature hiding in a specific place, as the party of PCs passes by... It would make all sense, as other suggested, to roll the check when the creature is within sight range. Indoor this is simpler than outdoor. However, if the first PC getting close enough (e.g. someone with darkvision) misses the check, do you let the party roll again when other PCs get close enough? Do you let each of them roll a separate check? Because if you do, this tremendously changes the overall probability of success. It will be very rare for a party of 4 not to spot an average hiding creature, the DC of which is probably designed (e.g. as a stealth check result) against a single perception check. Do you randomly choose one of them only to make the check, but then who and why? Do you "aggregate" everyone's perceptions on have a single check for the whole party?

I think they will probably add guidelines, but ultimately you have to just DM by intuition and experience. I don't think they want to write precise rules, because they would easily get out of hand and be worse for an inexperienced DM than having to adjudicate.
 

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Baksartha

First Post
for experienced DMs only.

Unless I missed it, I didn't read anywhere in the latest playtest packet that it said this. Also, the rules are far more simple to comprehend than previous editions. An 'inexperienced' DM should have a much simpler time getting this than anything else.
Regardless, the rules for encounters have been oversimplified a bit too much, in my opinion.
 

Baksartha

First Post
I don't want 'precise rules'. I don't need to know what the DC is to hear a mouse fart in a thunderstorm from 300 feet away. I think just a LITTLE BIT MORE to go on would be nice. That's all.
 

Klaus

First Post
1 - When to roll Wisdom (Perception): when the groups may detect each other's presence, but it isn't a sure thing. This doesn't need to be simultaneous. A creature sitting in the dark will perceive a light source being carried much earlier than the torchbearers can see it.

2 - But what if the creature is just standing there, but isn't hiding? Give the PCs advantage on the Wisdom check. Advantage/Disadvantage is the catch-all mechanic for situational modifiers that make a task easier or harder than usual.

3 - And if the PCs fail to detect the creature, it has automatic surprise? Yes, it does. But if the creature is too far away to affect the PCs, it mught spend its surprise round moving. And by then, surprise is over ("There's something running this way!")
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Unless I missed it, I didn't read anywhere in the latest playtest packet that it said this.

It's a PLAYTEST.

Seriously, you need to be told a playtest of a game is for experienced players and DMs? It's not the whole book. They don't do the whole introduction to RPGs, to this game, to how to go about DM'ing, etc.. It's assumed you know all that, because you found your way there to the unadvertised sign-up only playtest sent just to members of Wizards.com with expressed prior interest in D&D.

Also, the rules are far more simple to comprehend than previous editions. An 'inexperienced' DM should have a much simpler time getting this than anything else.
Regardless, the rules for encounters have been oversimplified a bit too much, in my opinion.

First, the rules are not all there. Vast amounts of material are missing, particularly stuff that explains how to play the game if you're coming to D&D for the first time.

Second, I personally think that simplification is a huge strength of this version of the game. The level of complexity of the rules were, for me, getting in the way of the game. Put another way, the rules are not the game.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
2 - But what if the creature is just standing there, but isn't hiding? Give the PCs advantage on the Wisdom check. Advantage/Disadvantage is the catch-all mechanic for situational modifiers that make a task easier or harder than usual.

I don't think there is need for this.

You can just let them spot the creature. Unless the creature has cover or concealment (or is very small), then it can be a normal Perception check to spot it.
 

Klaus

First Post
I don't think there is need for this.

You can just let them spot the creature. Unless the creature has cover or concealment (or is very small), then it can be a normal Perception check to spot it.

That is a perfectly valid interpretation, as well. In my case, I decided that is a normal Perception test is for a creature actively hiding, a test with advantage serves for a creature that is naturally difficult to see, but who isn't otherwise trying to hide.
 


howandwhy99

Adventurer
If you recall the 1e AD&D DMG, there were encounter ranges based upon Terrain Type. No spot checks needed. These may seem needlessly complicated, but you could just take the averages for each, which keeps the diversity without the headache. Modify the rest by unusual sensory abilities and conditions (e.g. lowlight vision, darkvision, X-ray vision, keen hearing, as well as blindness or deafness, also being invisible and See Invisibility, and bright light-producing items like fire).
--->For your own game determine what your terrains are, what they are composed of, and what these ranges will be, as well as how far sensory organs can distinguish features, and how brightness of light, loudness, etc. affects those ranges.

Differentiating by Terrain Type is about abstracting cover and concealment based upon environmental components comprising the terrain. Forest are hard to see far in, flat plains are not. When you rate Encounters now you can balance them by environment (at least in this specific case) and ability to flee (if you use terrain movement rates, cover/concealment, etc.)

Spot Checks were actually "Determine Surprise" in AD&D, so if you spot them and they don't spot you, then you can act first. ...Which might mean you can hide and sneak away. Or charge. Or say "hello". Or whatever you want really. They don't know you are there yet.

Now Spotting Hidden creatures was based upon the success of the hider's roll modified by the spotter's senses and possibly behavior, like if they were concentrating on something else at the moment.

In 5E you could use the above as a game module to simplify everyone rolling to see if they know something is there (very metagamey). It removes the need for Spot Checks (unless actively done by the players searching for someone), so players might complain it is too easy to sneak up on them. You could use their Perception Skill +10 as a DC setting mechanic, but that gets terrifically convoluted when dealing with groups who all have different skill totals.
--> Maybe someone else here has a solution?
 

Blackbrrd

First Post
...
Precise rules however can be dangerously counterproductive for the inexperienced DM. There are way too many variables, when you add written rules it always opens up a couple of corner (or not-so-corner) cases it fails to represent properly, calling for more rules which open up more corner cases...
...
An example is from 3.x where you get a -1 penalty for every 10' the opponent is away. Which means that spotting a truck-sized object at the other end of a moderatly sized parking lot gets really difficult. The -1 for every 10' is just silly and should have been left out. The rule is much too specific and makes no sense in many situations.
 

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