D&D 5E The Solution to Perception?

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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.
If a roll is needed at all, I call for Investigation or Perception for traps, then Investigation (again, if needed) to figure out how the trap works before it can be disabled. For secret doors, it's Perception to find it, then Investigation to figure out how to open it, if a roll is necessary. Each task takes about 10 minutes, so a given trap interaction can take about 30 minutes of in-game time, and secret doors about 20 minutes.

So we might see the rogue or the cleric or even the wizard out front searching for traps (though the wizard tends not to be so brave!).
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I think Insight measures something that is a little harder to model. But, sure, you could treat it the same way.
If Insight were trying to model some real-world ability or skill, sure, it might be hard to model. But since those are generally considered bunk in real life, the skill mostly models the literary equivalent - and that makes it pretty relatively easy to model, in the end. I think just varying a PC's use of it between Intelligence and Wisdom would largely cover most common conceptions from an analytic approach like Sherlock Holmes or Lie to Me to a more intuitive one seen in a lot of fantasy works.
 

Reynard

Legend
If Insight were trying to model some real-world ability or skill, sure, it might be hard to model. But since those are generally considered bunk in real life, the skill mostly models the literary equivalent - and that makes it pretty relatively easy to model, in the end. I think just varying a PC's use of it between Intelligence and Wisdom would largely cover most common conceptions from an analytic approach like Sherlock Holmes or Lie to Me to a more intuitive one seen in a lot of fantasy works.
I always vacillate between answers like "You get the sense that he's nervous" versus "He is sweating a little and stammers over a few words" because I both want to give the player information, but also want to have that info emerge from the fiction. I find that more difficult than "You see the grooves around this particular tile appear to be deeper than the rest."
 

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.

IMX, the DM would pick whichever one they felt was more appropriate in the given circumstance. While over granularity can be a problem, I think splitting them up in this case is actually a solution to the OPs complaint. If you think the fact that ~30% of the skill checks in Critical Role is a problem, wouldn't it be better if that was 15% Spot and 15% Listen?

The bigger problem in 5e with skill granularity isn't that it's hard to adjudicate, IMNSHO, it's that players don't get to pick enough skills. In 3e, a Rogue got to pick 8+Int modifier skills. In 5e it's four. Obviously, if a 5e rogue had to spend skills on both Spot and Listen it would be more of a problem than for a 3e rogue. But I would rather 5e players have 4x the skill points they get now and 10x the available skills to choose from. And bringing Int back into the mix would solve the problem of it being a dump stat.

Then again, I also grew up with the WEG d6 system. Where everything from shooting to will saves to sewing were all based on the same skill system, and you had to choose how to split your advancement pips between all three.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The problem with perception is that DM's use it wrong.
@Reynard has said it better than me. It's not a system problem, it's a DM problem.
To be fair, they've had bad teachers, but also many DMs drag habits from one version of the game to another. D&D 3e and 4e adventures, for example, often started with a Perception check at the start of a scene to determine what is noticed. So unless the DM is actively separating one game from another (something that should be done in my view), they end up doing this in 5e.
 

To be fair, they've had bad teachers, but also many DMs drag habits from one version of the game to another. D&D 3e and 4e adventures, for example, often started with a Perception check at the start of a scene to determine what is noticed. So unless the DM is actively separating one game from another (something that should be done in my view), they end up doing this in 5e.
Yep. You both are articulating it better than I can atm :)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
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.
I agree with the first paragraph, disagree with the second. I almost feel like passive perception should only be used as a DC for opposing stealth-users to beat, and we should otherwise only use perception checks when the character actively searches for something hidden. Then we should teach DMs not to gate details of the environment behind Perception checks. Only things that are actually hidden should require perception checks to find, and those things should be telegraphed in some way.
 

Reynard

Legend
I agree with the first paragraph, disagree with the second. I almost feel like passive perception should only be used as a DC for opposing stealth-users to beat, and we should otherwise only use perception checks when the character actively searches for something hidden. Then we should teach DMs not to gate details of the environment behind Perception checks. Only things that are actually hidden should require perception checks to find, and those things should be telegraphed in some way.
I like the idea of passive only because I think it enhances immersion by not have to break to check perception.
 

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