Perception skill checks and "Try Again"


Rules Questions


I'd like some advice or rules-clarification for an upcoming session I'll be running:

The rules for the Perception skill indicate that a character may Try Again to sense something if the stimulus is still present. But, the Action subsection indicates that most Perception checks are "...reactive, made in response to observable stimulus.", and that a move action is taken only when intentionally searching for something. Let's call a reactive check a check to notice something.

Now, suppose some characters pass by a niche in the wall of a dungeon corridor (the stimulus) and fail to notice it. It's not critical to the plot that they discover the niche, but it would be beneficial for them to notice it, as it would either reward them or protect them (by preventing the triggering of a nearby trap).

Then, the same characters spend a few minutes in a nearby room, after which they re-traverse the same corridor, passing by the same niche again.

Should they be allowed to Try Again and roll another set of Perception checks, and if so, with or without any penalties?

My gut instinct is to have them roll again (or roll myself), but with a –4 penalty. My reasoning for applying a penalty is that they're typically cautious and observant when first traversing an area, but on return trips they're less on-guard.

If the 1st pass by should be their only chance, then I'm being too generous. If they should get a new roll with no penalties every time they pass the stimulus, then I'm being too stingy.


I'd say yes, they are encountering the stimulus again and reactively, get a Perception check without a penalty.


Maybe it's just me, but I'm just as cautious going out of the Dungeon 'O Doom as I am going in. Or, maybe it's just I know how my GM thinks lol.


Thanks Odraude and Rocky. Your prompt answers are appreciated. If they happen to be chasing, chased, or in combat when passing the stimulus again, would you consider that to be unfavorable conditions and apply a +2 to the Perception DC?


I don't think terrible conditions would be too extreme a modifier in situations like that.


Ignotus Advenium wrote:
Thanks Odraude and Rocky. Your prompt answers are appreciated. If they happen to be chasing, chased, or in combat when passing the stimulus again, would you consider that to be unfavorable conditions and apply a +2 to the Perception DC?

I'd agree. Not a harsh penalty, but enough of a difference to make things interesting. Sounds good.


I normally have characters automatically take 10 for passive perception checks. It represents an average level of awareness and response to stimuli. I would say that when passing the alcove the do not take any sort of penalty unless there is some sort of outside duress, in which case they also can't take 10. If they are specifically searching they don't take 10, but ostensibly they're looking over something after they've already taken 10. Given sufficient time and conditions your players may take 20.


You should definitely roll those perception checks. If the group searches the room, and all roll low, they'll find some excuse to want to search again. If you roll for them, they're unaware if they rolled high or low, and will react naturally.


Thanks again to everyone who piped in.

Claxon, I do like your idea of taking 10's for passive checks in general, and will be considering that as a general rule.

In this case, it was a DC 20 check that they missed when they passed it the 1st time, and they almost definitely won't be specifically looking for it the next time.

They're just shy of a successful check if they take 10, so when they pass the spot the 2nd time, I'll give 'em another roll and increase the DC if they are in combat, chased, or chasing.


Thanks to you, too, Tormsskull. I will definitely make those rolls myself.

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