D&D General What's wrong with Perception?

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Ok, but what's the upside here? You don't invest in Perception so you get hit by every trap, miss every secret door, and get ambushed by any enemy with Stealth? How is that fun?
That’s a bit more hyperbolic than normal for around here, eh? Your options are not “perfect” or “suck.” There’s a wide range in between. That’s what the d20, ability score, and DC are for. Proficiency only adds +10-30%. It doesn’t make you always miss everything forever and ever.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Ok, but what's the upside here? You don't invest in Perception so you get hit by every trap, miss every secret door, and get ambushed by any enemy with Stealth? How is that fun?
That might have been true in 3e, but 5e has bounded accuracy. Bounded accuracy gives everyone a shot at avoiding those things.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I think what we're more likely to have here is a player disgruntled that most people seem satisfied with the game as it is rather than match his own preferences. And is then willing to project laziness onto the designers rather than accept that fact.
When the player base that the company making a game you love expands and changes so drastically in just a few years, I think that's an understandable reaction. That "most people" that are satisfied is a fairly new phenomenon when compared to the history of the game, and some people like me who have participated in most of that history don't like being left behind because WotC follows the money.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
That’s a bit more hyperbolic than normal for around here, eh? Your options are not “perfect” or “suck.” There’s a wide range in between. That’s what the d20, ability score, and DC are for. Proficiency only adds +10-30%. It doesn’t make you always miss everything forever and ever.
And what Cruentus said wasn't hyperbolic?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
And what Cruentus said wasn't hyperbolic?
Their experience with 5E players perfectly matches my experience with 5E players. I’ve had players rage quit over taking one point of damage. They will nova and long rest before every fight if given the chance. It might not match your experiences, but I can’t call it hyperbole.
 

MarkB

Legend
The first problem with Acrobatics is its name. Players naturally take it in order to be able to do the things that acrobats can do - but, in practice, most of the things that acrobats can do are governed in-game by Athletics.

The second is saving throws. Of the things that definitely do fall into the scope of Acrobatics - like balancing on a ledge, or catching something through quick reflexes - very often, they get resolved in-game through a dexterity saving throw rather than an acrobatics check.

Between those two factors, it tends to wind up being a very narrowly-applicable skill that is hardly ever called for.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Let me share some examples of why players might think they need to be good at Perception. This is the Yawning Portal conversion of Sunless Citadel, an adventure for Tier 1 adventurers.

Highlights-

(Area 4) Secret Door: a trapped secret door leads to area 5. Finding the door requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception check).

(Area 9) Secret Door: a secret door in the western wall leads to area 10. Finding the door requires a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check.

(Area 10) Quasit hiding here to ambush characters. Stealth +5. Secret Door: finding the door in the southern wall requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check.

(Area 11) Secret Door: a secret trapdoor in the floor requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to find.

(Area 15) Treasure: a thorough search of the firepit and a successful DC 15 (Perception) check reveals a jade figurine.

(Area 24) Hidden Pit: with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, a character notices the door's unmortared rim.

(Area 25) Fountain: a character who makes a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices a mostly worn-away inscription in Draconic. Scythe Trap: the blade is concealed in a slot in the ceiling. A successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check can find the slot before the trap is sprung.

(Area 27) Treasure: a secret compartment in the shrine, requiring a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to find...

(Area 28) Investigating: a character who succeeds on a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices tracks in the dust here.

(Area 29) Trapped Fountain: a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals suspicious metallic tubes in the carved dragon's mouth. A character who makes a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check notices a mostly worn-away inscription in Draconic.

(Area 31) with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, someone who carefully opens the door might spot the bell attached to the door about 3 feet off the ground. A character who examines the space around the door before opening it and succeeds on a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the damage done to the door when the goblins fastened the bell to it.

I've got 10 more pages to go on this adventure, but I think that's enough to give you all the idea.
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
Ok, but what's the upside here? You don't invest in Perception so you get hit by every trap, miss every secret door, and get ambushed by any enemy with Stealth? How is that fun?
I wasn't trying to be hyberbolic, and like I said, this IS my experience at my table.

What is the upside? How do you play the game then? If traps, secret doors, ambushes and surprise are so horrible that they should ALWAYS be avoided, then why have them? What is the fun in their inclusion? I ask these questions mostly rhetorically by the way.

The game has systems built into it to handle these types of situations. People apply those systems differently at different tables. Different tables have different levels of tolerance of variablility, chance, and danger. Clearly there is a middle ground. But even bounded accuracy doesn't provide a middle ground. If the player(s) wants to maximize their Perception, and see and use it as an "avoid all, see all stat", then that is their prerogative as a player, and the DM either supports that or doesn't.

But it does appear that what the "modern" gamer is looking for in their game of dungeons and dragons has significantly shifted, as far as I have been able to tell. One could also argue that traps, ambushes, secret doors, and surprise interfere with player agency, and should be removed from the game, or be relegated to optional deep in the DMG. I mean, its just no fun to be caught by a trap. Or to not be able to react to an ambush. Or to miss a secret door...

My players feel this way. If you do anything that they absolutely 100% can't see coming, or avoid, then, why, that's dirty pool old man! "How come I didn't see the trap?" "Well, you failed the roll." "But I would have looked again!"...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Let me share some examples of why players might think they need to be good at Perception. This is the Yawning Portal conversion of Sunless Citadel, an adventure for Tier 1 adventurers.

I've got 10 more pages to go on this adventure, but I think that's enough to give you all the idea.
Why are players reading the module? They shouldn’t be. And yes, so? Sometimes you miss stuff. So what? Unless it’s necessary to continue playing it’s optional content.

DC10 is a 55% chance of success without any bonuses.

DC15 is a 30% chance of success without any bonuses.

DC20 is a 5% chance of success without any bonuses.

Sometimes things are hard. Sometimes the PCs fail. It’s a game with dice. Sometimes you roll low.
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
Let me share some examples of why players might think they need to be good at Perception. This is the Yawning Portal conversion of Sunless Citadel, an adventure for Tier 1 adventurers.

Highlights-

(Area 4) Secret Door: a trapped secret door leads to area 5. Finding the door requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception check).

(Area 9) Secret Door: a secret door in the western wall leads to area 10. Finding the door requires a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check.

(Area 10) Quasit hiding here to ambush characters. Stealth +5. Secret Door: finding the door in the southern wall requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check.

(Area 11) Secret Door: a secret trapdoor in the floor requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to find.

(Area 15) Treasure: a thorough search of the firepit and a successful DC 15 (Perception) check reveals a jade figurine.

(Area 24) Hidden Pit: with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, a character notices the door's unmortared rim.

(Area 25) Fountain: a character who makes a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices a mostly worn-away inscription in Draconic. Scythe Trap: the blade is concealed in a slot in the ceiling. A successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check can find the slot before the trap is sprung.

(Area 27) Treasure: a secret compartment in the shrine, requiring a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to find...

(Area 28) Investigating: a character who succeeds on a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices tracks in the dust here.

(Area 29) Trapped Fountain: a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals suspicious metallic tubes in the carved dragon's mouth. A character who makes a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check notices a mostly worn-away inscription in Draconic.

(Area 31) with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, someone who carefully opens the door might spot the bell attached to the door about 3 feet off the ground. A character who examines the space around the door before opening it and succeeds on a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the damage done to the door when the goblins fastened the bell to it.

I've got 10 more pages to go on this adventure, but I think that's enough to give you all the idea.
IMO, its mostly terrible adventure design...

Why are the DC's for doors so high? Assuming that a character has +2 Prof, and +2 or 3 for their Wis, they have to roll a 15 or so to see the door? Is it intentionally so well hidden as to need that level of Perception? If not, bad design. If so, why?

And are there other ways to access the areas hidden behind the doors that are less onerous? Why not?

Is accessing those doors critical to the adventure's success? If so. Bad design.

And frankly, half of those rolls are stupid. I have to roll a DC 15 to find a jade figurine in a firepit? Or to notice missing mortar? So I have a 50% chance of missing those? Bad design. They could both be auto successes if someone pokes through the firepit, or look around where the mortar is.

With adventures like this, no wonder people in the other Perception thread said "I roll Perception". It seems that at least this adventure is modeled on Perception checks everywhere, and a lot of times where they aren't needed.

YMMV

Edit: you realize that adventures like this are training players to see Perception as super necessary, right? And if this is how new DMs are being shown the ropes... :rolleyes:
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
IMO, its mostly terrible adventure design...

Why are the DC's for doors so high?
Assuming that a character has +2 Prof, and +2 or 3 for their Wis, they have to roll a 15 or so to see the door? Is it intentionally so well hidden as to need that level of Perception? If not, bad design. If so, why?

And are there other ways to access the areas hidden behind the doors that are less onerous? Why not?

Is accessing those doors critical to the adventure's success? If so. Bad design.

And frankly, half of those rolls are stupid. I have to roll a DC 15 to find a jade figurine in a firepit? Or to notice missing mortar? So I have a 50% chance of missing those? Bad design. They could both be auto successes if someone pokes through the firepit, or look around where the mortar is.

With adventures like this, no wonder people in the other Perception thread said "I roll Perception". It seems that at least this adventure is modeled on Perception checks everywhere, and a lot of times where they aren't needed.

YMMV
Most likely because it's a reprint of an old adventure where DCs would scale by level. Some of the dungeons in it probably have as much if not more treasure than at least one full (likely more than 1) 5e HC adventure too. 5E has design elements that make certain styles of play somewhere between difficult to problematic & the inability for wotc to convert those old modules over without losing a lot in the adaptation if they changed them to fit 5e norms highlights that.

DC15 is pretty low for a check with proficient skills not tied to your dump stat though.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I wasn't trying to be hyberbolic, and like I said, this IS my experience at my table.

What is the upside? How do you play the game then? If traps, secret doors, ambushes and surprise are so horrible that they should ALWAYS be avoided, then why have them? What is the fun in their inclusion? I ask these questions mostly rhetorically by the way.

The game has systems built into it to handle these types of situations. People apply those systems differently at different tables. Different tables have different levels of tolerance of variablility, chance, and danger. Clearly there is a middle ground. But even bounded accuracy doesn't provide a middle ground. If the player(s) wants to maximize their Perception, and see and use it as an "avoid all, see all stat", then that is their prerogative as a player, and the DM either supports that or doesn't.

But it does appear that what the "modern" gamer is looking for in their game of dungeons and dragons has significantly shifted, as far as I have been able to tell. One could also argue that traps, ambushes, secret doors, and surprise interfere with player agency, and should be removed from the game, or be relegated to optional deep in the DMG. I mean, its just no fun to be caught by a trap. Or to not be able to react to an ambush. Or to miss a secret door...

My players feel this way. If you do anything that they absolutely 100% can't see coming, or avoid, then, why, that's dirty pool old man! "How come I didn't see the trap?" "Well, you failed the roll." "But I would have looked again!"...
See this is the problem. All these things are binary. Either you notice the traps/hidden doors/concealed enemies or you...don't. There's not much middle ground. If you're careful about the DC's, to the point that players don't need to invest, then all it takes is one guy who does and they see all the things.

If you're like WotC (see my previous post on Sunless Citadel), many DC's are so high that you need investment or you'll miss a great deal.

It's not fun to blunder into a scythe trap for d8 damage, or miss a crucial secret door, or be poisoned by a quasit.

But it's also not fun if the only way to surprise players with these things is to set the DC's to ridiculous levels.

The problem is, the game isn't built with any middle ground. A priest of the sea god with 16 Wisdom and the Sailor Background has a +5 Perception. That's enough to not be surprised by a quasit (picking on this creature because I just looked up it's Stealth +5). That's not enough to avoid being surprised by a Bugbear (Stealth +6).

A DC 20 secret door? Yeah, only a 1 in 4 to spot it.

Then along comes a Rogue with expertise in Perception, and it's not long before he trivializes all these checks, and if you use higher DC's to challenge them, the rest of the party suffers.

So what's the right answer? Invest wisely in Perception to not have these problems, or...don't?
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Why are players reading the module? They shouldn’t be. And yes, so? Sometimes you miss stuff. So what? Unless it’s necessary to continue playing it’s optional content.

DC10 is a 55% chance of success without any bonuses.

DC15 is a 30% chance of success without any bonuses.

DC20 is a 5% chance of success without any bonuses.

Sometimes things are hard. Sometimes the PCs fail. It’s a game with dice. Sometimes you roll low.
Who said anything about them reading the module? I'm just saying, if this is an official product, and someone goes on this adventure, and they fail a lot of Perception rolls, they're going to realize "hey, not having Perception is bad".
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
That’s a bit more hyperbolic than normal for around here, eh? Your options are not “perfect” or “suck.” There’s a wide range in between. That’s what the d20, ability score, and DC are for. Proficiency only adds +10-30%. It doesn’t make you always miss everything forever and ever.
Proficiency is the only handle you actually have a say over, seeing as how your stats are actually controlled by your class. You're not going to pump your wisdom to only slightly suck at Perception instead of totally sucking when you can do the only real thing that matters and suck a bit more than is reasonable unless your a Bard or Rogue and have 'Be Reasonable at Skills' as a class feature.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Who said anything about them reading the module? I'm just saying, if this is an official product, and someone goes on this adventure, and they fail a lot of Perception rolls, they're going to realize "hey, not having Perception is bad".
You did.

“Let me share some examples of why players might think they need to be good at Perception.”

Players won’t have that impression unless they read the module. If they play without reading the modules, they’ll just miss some stuff and not know what the DCs are. They won’t be able to tell the difference between nothing there and really high DC. Unless the referee tells them, which is a terrible idea.

This is also why referees should be rolling secret door etc checks behind the screen. The player shouldn’t know they missed something because it will inevitably be a metagame problem.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
You did.

“Let me share some examples of why players might think they need to be good at Perception.”

Players won’t have that impression unless they read the module. If they play without reading the modules, they’ll just miss some stuff and not know what the DCs are. They won’t be able to tell the difference between nothing there and really high DC. Unless the referee tells them, which is a terrible idea.

This is also why referees should be rolling secret door etc checks behind the screen. The player shouldn’t know they misses something because it will inevitably be a metagame problem.
Again, I never said anything about players reading the adventure. How did they know? Because they asked me after the adventure was concluded, and I told them.

I don't believe in hiding game mechanics from the players, otherwise, they can never learn about the game. If they ask, I'll explain at the end of every adventure I run.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The first problem with Acrobatics is its name. Players naturally take it in order to be able to do the things that acrobats can do - but, in practice, most of the things that acrobats can do are governed in-game by Athletics.
Not in 5e. Athletics is more basic. Running fast, marathon running, climbing, jumping farther than normal, etc. Acrobatics is explicitly what acrobats do.

"Your Dexterity (Acrobatics) check covers your attempt to stay on your feet in a tricky situation, such as when you're trying to run across a sheet of ice, balance on a tightrope, or stay upright on a rocking ship's deck. The DM might also call for a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to see if you can perform acrobatic stunts, including dives, rolls, somersaults, and flips."

They seem to want acrobatics to primarily be balance, since that comes up more than flips would, but flips would still be acrobatics and not athletics.
Between those two factors, it tends to wind up being a very narrowly-applicable skill that is hardly ever called for.
It isn't used much, but I think it would be very effective if it were. Someone who knew when to dive, roll, etc. in combat would be a force. For instance, if two enemies were blocking a passage and you normally could not pass through them, I would give a DC and allow an acrobat to do a dive roll in-between them and get to the other side.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
See this is the problem. All these things are binary. Either you notice the traps/hidden doors/concealed enemies or you...don't. There's not much middle ground. If you're careful about the DC's, to the point that players don't need to invest, then all it takes is one guy who does and they see all the things.

If you're like WotC (see my previous post on Sunless Citadel), many DC's are so high that you need investment or you'll miss a great deal.

It's not fun to blunder into a scythe trap for d8 damage, or miss a crucial secret door, or be poisoned by a quasit.

But it's also not fun if the only way to surprise players with these things is to set the DC's to ridiculous levels.

The problem is, the game isn't built with any middle ground. A priest of the sea god with 16 Wisdom and the Sailor Background has a +5 Perception. That's enough to not be surprised by a quasit (picking on this creature because I just looked up it's Stealth +5). That's not enough to avoid being surprised by a Bugbear (Stealth +6).

A DC 20 secret door? Yeah, only a 1 in 4 to spot it.

Then along comes a Rogue with expertise in Perception, and it's not long before he trivializes all these checks, and if you use higher DC's to challenge them, the rest of the party suffers.

So what's the right answer? Invest wisely in Perception to not have these problems, or...don't?
Having a middle ground requires more work. As in many, many other areas, WotC isn't going to do that work, because the new players that are all they care about don't care about that.

Look at Level Up. They did the work, and there's an active Kickstarter right now selling it.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Again, I never said anything about players reading the adventure. How did they know? Because they asked me after the adventure was concluded, and I told them.

I don't believe in hiding game mechanics from the players, otherwise, they can never learn about the game. If they ask, I'll explain at the end of every adventure I run.
Then in a sense, your personal preferences have created this problem.
 

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