log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E Stealth and sleeping creatures

I'm trying to figure out how to handle the ability of a sleeping dragon to notice creatures around it. The dragon has blindsight, which complicates the matter a bit, but I realized I'm not even sure how I want to handle stealth around sleeping creatures in general.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything has some rules about waking up creatures, but they are less useful than one might hope. They focus on sound volume of voices, but don't mention anything about intentional attempts at stealth. You might be trying to keep your voice to a whisper or less, but you can still step on a branch or have creaky armor--these rules don't integrate that basic element of stealth.

The call I most recently made was to give a -10 to Passive Wisdom (Perception) for a sleeping creature to notice characters attempting to use Stealth, but I actually thought that was from XGtE (it wasn't, and I'm guessing I'm remembering a rule from 3.x, which isn't a mistake a usually make, but that seems like the most likely outcome). The number is awfully big for 5e (5e would usually just say you can't do something rather than give it that sort of penalty), and I prefer not to break with 5e standards when possible. That means it should probably be handled in terms of absolute yes/possible yes/no, and Advantage/Disadvantage as modifiers within "possible yes" category.

So how would you handle sleeping creatures noticing stealthy characters, taking into account 5e standard operations and the specific details about waking in in XGtE?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Seramus

Adventurer
Blinded creatures automatically fail perception checks based on sight. I allow perception at disadvantage (or passive -5) for hearing or smell.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
I give sleeping creatures the Unconscious condition, making them completely unaware of their surroundings. The only way they can notice anything is if they wake up, which they will do if there is a loud noise or something I consider to be the equivalent, like being attacked. Dragons are an exception. Sometimes they wake up for no reason at all.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Disadvantage on passive Perception seems like the way to go here. If the creature has blindsight (as with a dragon) or perhaps a relevant Keen Sense trait, then give them advantage which offsets disadvantage.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Depends on how you want to run it. A dragon in my campaign has blindsight because he uses senses other than sight and sound. Smell, sensing vibrations, even just noticing changes in air current.

But the dragon is asleep so I'd give them disadvantage on their perception.

Of course I'd also have wards and traps so you couldn't sneak in but that's another story.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
We do sleeping is -5 on passive perception. If the stealth is above the modified passive perception, the PC is quiet enough the target doesn't hear them to even consider waking up.

Now, we handle passive perception differently that RAW, so I am sure if this will help you or not. We rule if your passive score beats their stealth, you get to roll your perception against it. It isn't automatic!
 

pnewman

Explorer
There are no rules that say that blindsight has any penalty just because you are asleep.

I would just give them a -5 to their Passive Perception, because being asleep should put you at a disadvantage.
 

pnewman

Explorer
I give sleeping creatures the Unconscious condition, making them completely unaware of their surroundings. The only way they can notice anything is if they wake up, which they will do if there is a loud noise or something I consider to be the equivalent, like being attacked. Dragons are an exception. Sometimes they wake up for no reason at all.
The test of the "Sleep" spell supports this interpretation, because it causes unconsciousness and it refers to those affected as "sleepers".

However, it is just not 100% true that a sleeping person is totally unaware of their surroundings, or how would alarm clocks work?

Maybe they're unaware of their visual surroundings but, since they are not Deafened, they can still hear?
 


I think a -5 to passive perception and/or advantage on the stealth check would be sufficient. In general an unconscious creature is unaware of their surroundings, but someone being particularly loud (someone clanking around in heavy armor for example) might wake them. Interestingly, I'd not have that affect PCs if anyone ever takes a watch while wearing heavy armor, since they'd be used to the noise. As for the sleep spell, that's a magical effect that specifically ignores loud noises.

As for dragons, a sleeping dragon was always a method to allow PCs to face a dragon more powerful than they might otherwise face, giving them a round to start things off. However, many a cruel DM (myself included) have had dragons fake being asleep to lure the party into a trap.
 

Teemu

Adventurer
I think a simple way to rule it is to say that the dragon doesn’t suffer any penalties to Perception within its blindsight radius, even when asleep. So the PC rolls Stealth normally against the sleeping dragon’s passive Perception.
 

delphonso

Explorer
-5 seems fair. I'd modify this slightly, based on some real world conditions.

Sleeping under threat (in the wild/if worried about being pursued, etc) leaves us in lighter sleep in general (or makes our senses more ready to kick up to awake). If the dragon knows the PCs are coming, I'd leave passive perception as is, or give it a minus 2 to 5. Blindsight should wake it if they walk close (half blindsight range, maybe?)

Secure sleep and the creature sleeps deeply, if it doesn't know anything is going on with PCs, -5 to -10 to Passive seems fair to reflect the deep sleep they're in. Blight sight might only trigger if the PCs venture to a space adjacent the dragon.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Disadvantage on passive Perception seems like the way to go here. If the creature has blindsight (as with a dragon) or perhaps a relevant Keen Sense trait, then give them advantage which offsets disadvantage.
Just to clarify, disadvantage on a passive Perception in 5e is resolved by a -5 to the passive Perception score.
 


DMMike

Guide of Modos
Dragons are an exception. Sometimes they wake up for no reason at all.
So do coyotes, even while you're chewing your arm off.

This is enough talk about -5s and -10s. Fifth edition people, not third:
The number is awfully big for 5e (5e would usually just say you can't do something rather than give it that sort of penalty), and I prefer not to break with 5e standards when possible. That means it should probably be handled in terms of absolute yes/possible yes/no, and Advantage/Disadvantage as modifiers within "possible yes" category.

So how would you handle sleeping creatures noticing stealthy characters, taking into account 5e standard operations and the specific details about waking in in XGtE?
Like this! Use your handy DC chart (5 is very easy, 10 is easy...) and PCs roll against that. PCs get disadvantage if they're walking across treasure, or close to the dragon, or what-have-you.

Re-reading the OP, though, the problem was how to handle the dragon's ability to notice. Not the PC's ability to sneak. That sounds like an active check to me. Dragon rolls perception with disadvantage, DC is the dex+stealth+10 of the noisiest/stinkiest/heaviest party member.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
This is enough talk about -5s and -10s. Fifth edition people, not third:
The -5 on a passive score for disadvantage is the rule for 5e. PHB, pg 175.

RAW would be: roll stealth against their passive perception, but at -5 because of disadvantage.

Now if you'd rather roll for the dragon than use passive, that's fine too. Anything else is a houserule.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
My alarm clock usually beats my passive perception. When it doesn't I sleep right through it!
As a true in real life take on sleeping and passive perception, when you become a parent you don't need a particularly loud sound to wake you up, just a sound your body hasn't gotten used to and learned to ignore.

I'd say a sleeping dragon loves their gold as much as a new parent their child....so they are normally precepting.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
The test of the "Sleep" spell supports this interpretation, because it causes unconsciousness and it refers to those affected as "sleepers".

However, it is just not 100% true that a sleeping person is totally unaware of their surroundings, or how would alarm clocks work?

Maybe they're unaware of their visual surroundings but, since they are not Deafened, they can still hear?
Like a lot of stuff in the game, it's an abstraction, so unaware of surroundings might not mean exactly the same thing it does in real life. The phrase "for game purposes" can be considered to be appended to "unaware of its surroundings", as it can for most things. To me, it means (among other things) you don't notice any hidden threats.

I think non-magical sleep should be somewhat less strong than the magical variety, but I still use Unconscious for it. It's just easier, in my game, to wake someone up from natural sleep. You don't have to use an action. Simply shouting at them is sufficient. And they don't have to take damage. They only need to be attacked. An alarm clock works because 1) the player says, "My character is setting an alarm, and when it goes off, I will wake up," and 2) it makes a loud noise which I, as DM, have determined will wake up anyone sleeping near enough.

I wouldn't differentiate between the senses. I would consider the condition to represent a creature being cut off from awareness of its surroundings in general.

Here's a chart to show how this fits into the game:
ActivityPassive Perception
Awake (conscious), not traveling at a fast pace, and keeping watch Normal
Elven trance (semi-conscious) / Traveling at a fast pace and keeping watchDisadvantage
Asleep or otherwise Unconscious / Other activities such as navigating, drawing a map, tracking, or foragingn/a
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
The -5 on a passive score for disadvantage is the rule for 5e. PHB, pg 175. . .
Now if you'd rather roll for the dragon than use passive, that's fine too. Anything else is a houserule rule zero.
Huh. Well, since players don't declare passive checks, I'm not sure why WotC put that in the PHB. It should be in the DMG. Also not sure why there's a "passive" check rule at all in a streamlined game. But that's me, and I'm not in charge of an iconic RPG franchise.

I fixed that last part for you. The decision to use the DC chart, or no chart, is part of running the game for the DM - not a houserule.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Also not sure why there's a "passive" check rule at all in a streamlined game.
I believe the intent was to avoid many-to-most instances of "both sides roll" in the belief that roughly half as many people calculating their results would result in more streamlined game play. It can also work for streamlining stuff, if the DM knows the PCs' passive scores across the board and treats those as floors for determining, e.g., what characters know; you can think of it as being helpful for determining auto-success.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top