D&D 5E The Solution to Perception?

If anything needs to be broken up, it’s Perception. If CritRoleStats is anything to go by, Perception alone accounts for 31% of skill checks in the game. (The next highest is Stealth, at 19%.) That being said, having a single number for the Narrator to measure against for the purposes of stealth is probably preferable.
The above post in another thread got me thinking which I'm sure we've debated before on Enworld and other places.

Why not just remove Perception as skill? It is the 'must-have' skill of skills. I remember in 3.x it felt silly (to me) to spend skill points in Perception for something every adventurer should have. In 5e if you are proficient and have a decent wisdom it makes traps kinda meh. But that likely is an issue with the short-hand mechanic for traps (Separate topic me thinks).
Anyways going forward, I think I'm going to nix the skill and rather add some others. You can still roll for Perception you just won't need to spend a proficiency slot in it.
The issue then shifts to Stealthy characters being able to sneak up easily on Perceptionless PCs for that easy surprise attack. I have no problem with Stealthy monsters sneaking up on PCs. That is their fortè and we should give them that.

My thinking is, we just need to be more vigilant of the effects of armour, items carried and the environment (i.e. walking on old wooden floorboards...etc) have on one's Stealth.
To note, if Perception is not a skill you cannot have Expertise in it.

You can also homebrew the Alert Feat to be
  • You gain +5 bonus to initiative.
  • You can’t be surprised while you are conscious. (I dislike these kind of absolutes)
  • You gain your proficiency bonus on Perception checks.
  • Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you.

Is it workable, what am I missing?
 
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DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
One thing I like about old D&D is skills were tied to your class and/or race.

If a “perception” check needed to be done it was done by the keen eyed elf or the vigilant Paladin or Ranger.

Needed lore about underground kingdoms? The learned wizard might know. Or perhaps the Dwarf.

“Skills” were whatever sounded good for the class or race or background.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
The problem with Perception (as a skill or otherwise) is that it is over used. The GM's job is to be the eyes and ears of the PCs. GMs rely on Perception checks far too often to gate information that should otherwise be available. It doesn't do a good job of modeling the behaviour in the fiction through mechanics when GMs ask for a perception check at every turn.

I think the best solution would to be to use passive perception only, and even then only when highly relevant to the immediate fiction.
 

The problem with Perception (as a skill or otherwise) is that it is over used. The GM's job is to be the eyes and ears of the PCs. GMs rely on Perception checks far too often to gate information that should otherwise be available. It doesn't do a good job of modeling the behaviour in the fiction through mechanics when GMs ask for a perception check at every turn.

I think the best solution would to be to use passive perception only, and even then only when highly relevant to the immediate fiction.
Bold emphasis mine.
Same for Insight then, or not?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The problem with Perception (as a skill or otherwise) is that it is over used. The GM's job is to be the eyes and ears of the PCs. GMs rely on Perception checks far too often to gate information that should otherwise be available. It doesn't do a good job of modeling the behaviour in the fiction through mechanics when GMs ask for a perception check at every turn.
I agree that lots of DMs often call for too many Perception checks. Or too many checks in general instead of following the Middle Path of calling for checks and granting success (or failure) in a more balanced way.

Be generous with information. Gate the stuff that isn't absolutely necessary but that finding provides some kind of benefit (a hidden cache of gold, a secret door, a trap, a hidden monster, etc.) so as to incentivize the players to poke around and explore more thoroughly. And even then, if they are reasonably specific as to what they are doing, be prepared to grant success without a roll if what they are doing would reveal the thing with certainty.

Bold emphasis mine.
Same for Insight then, or not?
The reason players "Roll Insight on that guy" is because there's no cost or risk in most games I've seen. Introduce cost or risk and they'll be a little more careful about it. The better use of it is to sus out the NPC's agenda, ideal, bond, or flaw, so that you can manipulate them more easily. See social interaction rules in the DMG.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Bold emphasis mine.
Same for Insight then, or not?
Ironically, in my experience it's actually the reverse. Insight is used less often than it really should be, pretty much only for whether a living and physically present person is lying to the character's face. I think it's a combination of players believing they can suss out the truth of someone's motives purely through observation, and seeing Insight as really narrow (that is, exclusively for examining a person already interacting with you.) By comparison, Perception is seen as literally everything, all forms of sensation and detection, to the point that 5e's Investigation skill often gets overlooked in the process.
 

I don't think Perception checks are a problem. Some characters should be more perceptive than others, and the bonuses and randomness of a d20 model that well. It can be very useful for information to be "gated" through one character, for either roleplay or rollplay situations. My DM often gives us the option of "Do you want this information publicly or privately" to the players who got a sufficient roll, and it makes for a ton of exciting situations.

If anything, I'd love to see a more detailed breakdown of the Perception skill. Give me separate "Listen" and "Spot" checks. Give me more racial modifiers. Heck, give me "Focus" and/or "Distraction" checks along with it.

I remember in 3.x it felt silly (to me) to spend skill points in Perception for something every adventurer should have. In 5e if you are proficient and have a decent wisdom it makes traps kinda meh. But that likely is an issue with the short-hand mechanic for traps (Separate topic me thinks).

I think this is missing an important view of the math. In 3.x, it was possible to get a Spot bonus that was ludicrously high. It would not be uncommon to see bonuses in the +30 range with minimal optimization. Which means that a character with high Spot could see things on a roll of 1 that other characters could miss with a 20. The difference between the highs and lows was so ridiculous it removed the need to roll. In 5e, the numbers are all close enough that everyone still has a chance to find the trap, it's just that some are more likely than others. So, still fun. YMMV.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Give me separate "Listen" and "Spot" checks.
I think I would hate that as a solution. There's a point where granularity is good and a point where it breaks down. Some variation in PCs, their backgrounds, their classes, even species/ancestry - those are all good. Some of those should develop perceptive abilities more or give PCs more assets.
But the distinction between spot and listen (and their mirror images in stealth components of hiding in and moving silently) were far more problematic than they added back in 3e days. If someone is being stealthy, do you check both spot and listen every time? There are better ways to deal with perception than breaking it back up.
 


aco175

Legend
I use Investigation more in my games. If players say they want to search the room, I'll ask for either Perception or Investigation depending on what I think the answer is. There has been several long threads on this, so I do not want to derail the thread.

I think it makes more sense for Investigation more. Part is that the rogue has INT as one of his attributes that is given over WIS. The rogue should be in the front of the p[arty checking for traps over the cleric since he happens to have the best WIS. It could be assumed that every rogue takes expertise in Perception to get around this as a skill tax though.
 

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