View Full Version : Perception Questions (4.0)

2009-05-22, 06:15 PM
Hey all. I'm the guy in the group who always DMs, however, when 4e first came out, I didn't like the system much. To pressure my players into sticking with 3.5, I told them I'd play but not DM the new system, assuming none of them would be willing to, and we'd stick with 3.5. One of my players did decide he wanted to try the DM chair, and I'm glad he did, playing a bit of 4e really sold me on the system. Now I'm DMing again, and my first session was one of the best I've had in a while, but I have a few questions.

Mostly, I want to know how people handle perception checks to detect stealth using monsters and traps. I was asking for checks as soon as the encounter started, and rolling stealth for the appropriate monsters. However, with 5 characters, it seemed someone always rolled high enough to detect everything. Out of 6 hidden traps/monsters in the game, 5 were found before combat even started. So I'm curious, is this a fluke, the way the game is supposed to be, or do you have other methods. Do you use passive perception vs passive stealth? Passive perception vs Stealth Roll? Basically, I just want to hear how other groups do this and how it works out.

Thanks in advance.

2009-05-22, 06:18 PM
The idea is that passive perception covers most things. Unless a character actively decides to look around, which allows them to make an active check. That takes a minor action.

2009-05-22, 06:51 PM
Players only get to roll perception if they, themselves, decide to spend a minor action on it. Otherwise, they use their passive perception against everything.

2009-05-22, 07:11 PM
Also note the changes to stealth as given in PHBII. As well, ensure that you've checked the errata for any books you may be using. Those should help clarify things.

Thanatos 51-50
2009-05-22, 07:17 PM
I was under the impression the the check was Passive Perception v. Stealth

However,my DM makes a point to activly roll perception for any monsters I stealth up on.
It's my party that does the sneak, not the monsters.
Unfortunatly, the Minotaur Barbarain is not a fan of stealth.

2009-05-22, 09:43 PM
Alright, I thought that might be the case, thanks guys.

2009-05-22, 10:49 PM
Also, I (and my DMs) tend to make checks only for relevant players.

For example, perception for traps is only for whoever's out front. If there are stealthed monsters, only the closest players get to make perception checks.

2009-05-23, 02:17 AM
Players only get to roll perception if they, themselves, decide to spend a minor action on it. Otherwise, they use their passive perception against everything.

This. QFT.

Also, passive insight is used for the same thing. Unless a player specifically tells me he/she is trying to detect a lie, I just compare my Bluff result to their passive insight score. If I am trying to stealth up on the party, I roll stealth and compare it to their passive perception.

However, if the players decide to try to sneak up on the bad guys, I always just use the monsters passive perception as well, unless they have a reason to suspect the players are there (which is rare).

To assist me in this endeavor, I have a page printed up with all the players defenses and passive scores. It also lets me streamline things, as I can describe what happens instead of asking, "25 vs. AC?" Another party I DM has little note card holders (made of plastic, so they are transparent) to hold their base stats, which includes their passive scores. Both work well.

Tiki Snakes
2009-05-23, 04:25 PM
The party I dm for includes 3 rangers. There's very rarely any need for people to genuinely roll for perception in such a party, really.

The monsters also rarely have to worry about rolling, because they are a raucaus bunch, frankly, and really seem to have no intention of ever taking anything by surprise.

My favourite was getting the halfling, who wanted to kick the door open, to roll strength to do so. He rolled a 1, and basically just knocked politely on the door with his foot, went red, and walked to the back of the party in shame. Good times.

2009-05-23, 11:27 PM
I keep a list of everyone's passive perceptions & insights. Unless they ask to roll, that's what they get.

However... If a monster sneaks up on the party... I will ask for perception checks and give the attacking monster's stealth check as the DC not to be surprised. Aside from that, I only ask for perception checks if a player says something like "Do I see _____" or "I want to watch _____".