Down with perception


Homebrew and House Rules

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Alrighty, I want to destroy the perception skill.

Every single player in every campaign I've run in the last two years has maxed perception, and I can't even say I blame them it is by far the most common skill check I see.(though I'm sure this is partially my fault)

As such, I'd like to completely remove it as a skill and break it down among other related skills. Though I do still see a need for a generic perception check at times, as such I'm thinking of making it just a plane ol wisdom check.

anyone else have any alternate ways to deal with perception and it's king of skills status.


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Perception used to be separate skills (Listen, Search, Spot), so I guess you could do that, though it leaves out other uses of Perception, such as sense of smell. (You could add a Smell skill, I guess -- spreading the ranks out over several related skills would reduce the potency of any one of them.)

Personally, I do not rely overmuch on skill checks. I rely on description and the natural curiosity of my players instead. I would rather describe whatever curious feature or event hides the thing to be found, then allow them to work out what it is and what it does through a process of experimentation. In other words, I tell them they see something weird, describe it briefly, and let them ask questions about it.

For instance, they may find some odd feature on a wall. They may examine it closely. They may see something engraved upon it. They may decipher what the engraving means. They may realize it reveals a secret door. Much more interesting than a simple Perception check to detect a secret door.

Yes, I still use Perception for certain things. Or when roleplay and description as I've described fails. But in general, I dislike relying too much on skill rolls. They don't have to, but they can sometimes kill the imaginative process.


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you could make it an automatic thing like what happened to the Concentration skill. it just stays at your level + Wish + relevant modifiers. That way everyone can use skill ranks for other stuff.


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The big thing I noticed in my own games is I asked for Perception checks too often for things that really didn't matter.

I tried to limit the actual usage of the skill to only the really mechanical uses in game. The scout is looking for enemies ahead, or looking for traps.

When it comes to details about things in game, rather than saying "roll a perception" I have trained myself to just give them details on things, rather than expect them to have to roll play noticing the details on things that I wanted to just say anyway, and I haven't looked back.

I haven't used a Search skill in a long time, instead I would rather actually prod my player's brains to actually search a room.

Example: In the first dungeon of my game I included a very simple puzzle involving doors marked with numbers, and keys being hidden somewhere in the room. Rather than having them roll a search check and saying "you hit the DC! you find some keys behind the desk." I actually expected the players to look behind the desk and when they did I said "you found some keys" and it was much more satisfying for both my players and for me.

Actual Perception checks in my games are limited to scenarios where there are actual DCs that matter, limiting its use significantly and making it one of those skills that only one person in the party needs maxed rather than all of them.


Talcrion wrote:

(snip) I'd like to completely remove it as a skill and break it down among other related skills. Though I do still see a need for a generic perception check at times, as such I'm thinking of making it just a plane ol wisdom check.

anyone else have any alternate ways to deal with perception and it's king of skills status.

Depending on your willingness to houserule, you could make Perception a 4th save (along with Fortitude, Reflex and Will), and revert to the Search skill for active use by players.

If you like the idea of Perception as saving throw but don't want to create a 4th save, fold perception into Reflex. Typically, the classes granting good Ref would be those you'd give good perception.


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I find the ubiquity and scattershot, broadcast nature of Perception problematic, wherein every intake and outtake of breath is accompanied by a check.

Grand Lodge

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There are actually very few things that require the use of the perception skill. Most everything else can be handled using other skill checks.

In my experience, only rookie DMs rely on perception, and they do it for two main reasons: 1) They're not familiar with all the other skills and what they cover or 2) They fall into the age-old trap of forcing perception checks for characters to perceive anything, from inconsequential details to major plot points.

Now, I've also thought of getting rid of the perception skill, but if you follow these guidelines, I think it'll work out for you to keep it around:

1) Only use perception where it is absolutely needed: The surprise round of combat when one side ambushes another and opposed stealth checks. That's it. Everything else is handled by other skills. Why is that barkeep acting strange? Sense motive. Is that tunnel safe? Knowledge (dungeoneering). Is that a real painting or a secret door? Appraise. Want to see the bottom of that well through the murky water? Swim (seeing through water is something an experienced swimmer would be able to do).

2) In cases where you want to use perception for other stuff, just increase the difficulty. For example, you might allow players to roll survival or perception to spot an eagle's nest in a nearby tree, but the perception roll is 5 DC higher. Make sure your players know you're using this system, though, or they'll think you're still allowing perception checks on lots of different things.

3) Never require perception checks for stuff that is either completely unimportant or absolutely necessary to keep the story moving. If a player really wants to know what kind of wood the inn is made out of, don't call for a perception check; just say some random type of wood and move on. Likewise, if the plot of your adventure hinges on the party locating a villain's lair behind a waterfall, don't make them roll perception. Have them follow clues or, better yet, have them encounter the villain just outside (doing some ritual or maybe just taking a piss) and chase him back into his lair for the kill.

I hope all of that helps.

Liberty's Edge

Perception is a God skill. I feel if you players build for a particular problem then it makes sense to reward them for their build. Now you can throw other problems at them that perception cant help, but I've always liked perception.


Headfirst you pretty much nailed exactly what I was thinking with your number 1, Putting a lot more perceptiony things into other skill checks that would be suitable. I was reading over one of the AP's last night and I noticed a section to tell if someone has a Pesh addiction and theres options for the pc to make either a perception or a heal check.... and it got me thinking WHY is there a perception check, yes you can see it but you lack the medical knowledge to even know that what your looking at is an issue.

but I'm rambling now, your number 1 point there was exaclty what I was aiming for , splitting perception among the other skills so that your using relevant skills to notice things, rather than just a notice things skill itself

Though I'd like to get rid of it all together, perhaps making Perception a standard wisdom check rather than a skill check and things like notcing opposed stealth check could be handled by something else. like an appropriate knowledge skill or maybe your own stealth skill (takes a rat to catch a rat kind of idea).


To echo many here simply use it less. Perception for our group is mostly on rolled passively when we are going to to be ambushed or a rogue has something like trap sense. Dont roll it for things they should be searching for unless they tell you they are looking for it. For example if they arent searching the book case for clues they shouldnt get a passive Perception check to spot a book out of place. Now it becomes incumbent on you as DM to leave bread crumbs to encourage them to start roleplaying those situation if you havent done it that way before, but it shouldnt take long and the game will be more fun for it.


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I'm with the consensus of limiting perception to Opposing stealth rolls and such. Also, take perception out of your plot devices, we've all had the DM ask for a perception roll only to look very disappointed as we all miss a plot hook or a piece of loot they were excited about.

I've been experimenting on asking the player to take a ten, or giving them a ten without rolling behind the screen on plot items. This way I can assume a 15 will give the bare minimum information with bonus info for additional ranks.

Eg: you cast detect magic on the recently slain earth elementals, you detect the linger aura of arcane magic. What is your knowledge arcane bonus? OK, you quickly identify the lingering aura as a planar binding, with your expertise you can also rule out that this binding was not a dwarven trained caster, the magical structure is all wrong for that (bonus to rule out a false trail) .

Eg: you see a beggar huddled in the back alley as you climb down the fence escaping the manor. (I roll perception to see if anything is out of place with him) how about rolling knowledge local (15) from the mud on his boots and attire you conclude this beggar normally resides in the docks, it is odd to see him in an Uptown alley.


I think it was a mistake to roll Spot, Search, and Listen into one skill. I think they should have stayed separate, and they could have just given rogues 2 more skill points instead.

Ken

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I'd have gone with Search and Notice, myself. /shrug


Laurefindel wrote:
Talcrion wrote:

(snip) I'd like to completely remove it as a skill and break it down among other related skills. Though I do still see a need for a generic perception check at times, as such I'm thinking of making it just a plane ol wisdom check.

anyone else have any alternate ways to deal with perception and it's king of skills status.

Depending on your willingness to houserule, you could make Perception a 4th save (along with Fortitude, Reflex and Will), and revert to the Search skill for active use by players.

If you like the idea of Perception as saving throw but don't want to create a 4th save, fold perception into Reflex. Typically, the classes granting good Ref would be those you'd give good perception.

I do something pretty similar, except I have the DM roll it in secret! :D

You should eliminate scenarios from your game where the DM says "alright, everyone roll Perception," because in real life, you can't actively try to notice stuff. Searching is fine, as long as they know what they're searching for. You can't just search a room for whatever plot devices god secretly hid in it. Whether you use old school perception, a fourth save, or Monkerdoodle's fantastic idea of gettin funky with the skills, I think its best to keep the rolls secret to the DM.


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I'll echo what I said in the last "Perception is too good" thread:

Maybe the problem is that the other skills aren't good enough, not that Perception is too good. Maybe if we combined a bunch of leftover skills into Superskills, the way Listen + Search + Spot got turned into Perception, then the other ones would hold their own.

Imagine if all social interaction was governed by a single skill: Bluff + Diplomacy + Sense Motive = Social Superskill. You'd be throwing checks for that bad boy all day long.

Imagine if all perform skills were merged into one Perform skill, and if all Craft skills were merged into a single Craft skill that also gave you the Master Craftsman feat at X ranks.

The problem with Perception is that it's a conglomeration of multiple skills, and the others haven't formed alliances together yet.


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It's also a skill that largely retains usefulness once magic nullifies other skills. If you want to lessen how "good" perception is, you need to ensure other skills are just as useful and not invalidated by a low level spell, and have players/dm's break away from the habit of hyper specializing. What I mean by that is players who build characters to get say, skill X into the possible 60-70 check zone by level 10 (as seen in PFS). Also, getting a handle on what appropriate DC's actually are for skill checks (no, seeing if someone sneaking a coffee during a speech is not a DC40 perception just because you're level 15).

Shadow Lodge

Cubic Prism wrote:
(no, seeing if someone sneaking a coffee during a speech is not a DC40 perception just because you're level 15).

Well, unless they're rolling 40s on their Sleight of Hand =)

Which might be called showing off... if anyone could see it.


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Good for you! I say try it. Worst thing that could happen is it doesn't work.

Remember to clearly state the perceived problem (ha!) and then try to make only the changes that address the issue directly. In my experience, houseruling something like this can too easily become a chain of unnecessary changes that stem from long-simmering resentments.

One problem you'll encounter is how to roll opposition to stealth checks (and sleight of hand, etc). I recommend rolling stealth in opposition to stealth, then parsing the intent of the characters involved. If one person is hiding and the other is spotting, that's obvious. Occasionally in PF, you'll get a situation where Stealth v. Perception and Perception v. Stealth occur simultaneously. If stealth opposes stealth, that becomes one roll — whoever wins gets the drop on the other guy.

A Tangentially Related Rant about Torchbearer and Skills:

I've played a lot of Torchbearer lately, which is a retro-RPG dungeon crawl, but it uses a system that's decidedly role-play centric. That game has no Perception in it. All of the skills arranged as occupations, and there is some overlap in the meaning. So for example, both Criminal and Scout skills can be rolled to sneak around, but their context is slightly different. They also both allow you to do a lot of other things.

That system addresses Kirth's suggestion that all skills need to be useful. It does so in a very elegant way — the problem is never that one skill doesn't have enough tables, or that the DCs were calculated poorly, or that the skill doesn't permit enough interesting options.

Instead, when you buy a skill, you're buying a huge, inclusive swath of human competence. Criminal skill gets you lock picking, pickpocketing, sneaking around, and anything else criminals do that was not included on the list! All the skills in the game are like that.

Anyway, that's the context in which I've seen Stealth vs. Stealth work, plus a whole lot of game design about skills that may or may not apply.

Interesting premise! I say go for it.


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
Instead, when you buy a skill, you're buying a huge, inclusive swath of human competence. Criminal skill gets you lock picking, pickpocketing, sneaking around, and anything else criminals do that was not included on the list!

I have no knowledge of Torchbearer, so with that in mind, my question is, do you get guidelines spelling out what you can do with those things?

Or is it a game of mother-may-I?

Player: "My criminal skill gives me lockpicking, so I pick the lock! Do I need to roll something?"
DM: "No roll; I'm just going to say no."
Player: "Any reason?"
DM: "Naw; I could cite some vague answer about 'context,' but it boils down to what I want to happen, always happens. If I wanted you to pick the lock, then 'food service skill' would have also worked in this context."


Kirth Gersen wrote:

I have no knowledge of Torchbearer, so with that in mind, my question is, do you get guidelines spelling out what you can do with those things?

Or is it a game of mother-may-I?

Player: "My criminal skill gives me lockpicking, so I pick the lock! Do I need to roll something?"
DM: "No roll; I'm just going to say no."
Player: "Any reason?"
DM: "Naw; I could cite some vague answer about 'context,' but it boils down to what I want to happen, always happens. If I wanted you to pick the lock, then 'food service skill' would have also worked in this context."

This is handled by the workflow of the game. Players state their intent without recourse to mechanics, the GM picks the appropriate skill and difficulty to roll against. This draws upon a very forgiving unskilled roll system and a non-binary role of failure in the game. Here's where we start running into structural problems with the difference between TB and PF.

But, it's still interesting that this highlights the issue. You can only get the kind of clad-in-stone player agency you're asking for by specifically limiting the application of skills. 3.5 did its damndest to make exactly that happen, and it started out good, but quickly got eclipsed by the expanding, modular systems of Feats, Spells and the like. The earnest player in your scenario can only be satisfied by knowing every valid application of a skill, so there must be finite applications.

There are other parts of Torchbearer that make this kind of openness work in a way that Pathfinder doesn't. There's a premise of "failing forward" which would take too long to explain here, but it basically negates any motivation that the GM would have for saying "no" as in your example.

We're getting off topic, though. Anyone who wants to talk Torchbearer with me can hijack this thread.

We now return you to a discussion on Perceptionectomy.

EDIT: Kirth, I should have just said "yes" you get guidelines. There are lists of things you can definitely do for each skill. They're just not exhaustive.


Headfirst wrote:


2) In cases where you want to use perception for other stuff, just increase the difficulty. For example, you might allow players to roll survival or perception to spot an eagle's nest in a nearby tree, but the perception roll is 5 DC higher. Make sure your players know you're using this system, though, or they'll think you're still allowing perception checks on lots of different things.

I feel like I do this all the time; I didn't realize it was a "thing". It's perfectly logical: your dog has no ranks in Heal, but it can sometimes tell before you can that you've got the flu (high racial bonus to Perception + Scent). But it's also opened up some great roleplaying/flavor opportunities. When someone detects that the painting is a secret door with Perception, it's because "it looks weirdly tilted" or "the frame appears to be part of the wall itself". When they detect the painting is a secret door with Appraise, it's because "the paint is too thick and smudged all across one edge of the canvas, like it was trying to cover something up".

In some cases, Perception is the higher DC, and sometimes it's the other skill; YMMV.


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
There's a premise of "failing forward" which would take too long to explain here, but it basically negates any motivation that the GM would have for saying "no" as in your example.

Now I most definitely want to learn more. I'll see if I can score a copy and read up on it; if successful, expect to see me in the other thread.

Thanks!


Perception is called upon a lot in my games, but that's because the minutiae of daily life is also included in the games. There's a lot of plot threads to be had in this particular sandbox, and some players will spot them and others won't. I tend to call upon them if the players just blindly say "I'm going to walk from the monastery to the blacksmith's across the town square". If there are things going on I'll get them to roll. If they ask if there is stuff going on, then I'll not ask them to roll, and just tell them.,though the detail in what I tell them may well be metered by how many ranks they put in perception.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:

I'll echo what I said in the last "Perception is too good" thread:

Maybe the problem is that the other skills aren't good enough, not that Perception is too good. Maybe if we combined a bunch of leftover skills into Superskills, the way Listen + Search + Spot got turned into Perception, then the other ones would hold their own.

Imagine if all social interaction was governed by a single skill: Bluff + Diplomacy + Sense Motive = Social Superskill. You'd be throwing checks for that bad boy all day long.

Imagine if all perform skills were merged into one Perform skill, and if all Craft skills were merged into a single Craft skill that also gave you the Master Craftsman feat at X ranks.

The problem with Perception is that it's a conglomeration of multiple skills, and the others haven't formed alliances together yet.

I was actually considering this for a skill overhaul of my own, and calling it Politics, it would also include Knowledge Nobility.

I was also contemplating combining Engineering, Disable Device, and UMD into a skill called Mechanics.

I believe you have already combined swim and climb into Athletics.

Ride and Handle Animal could be combined with Knowledge Nature and Survival into one super skill pretty easily.

This type of design however will severely reduce the number of skills that exist, and could have drawbacks. One side has the paladins, fighters, and clerics cheering because they effectively gain 3 or 4 more skill points per level because there's a bunch of skills they no longer have to put ranks into, which I think everyone will agree is a good thing. On the other hand, it is either really bad for bard's and rogues because it makes their supreme amount of skill ranks not as important. They can however, gain the ability to actually have all the skills, which I think is cool.


I was thinking about this last night. Why are things like "Perception" a skill? It's more like a natural ability, really. I'm considering dumping it entirely and allowing the character to use either Dex or Int, whichever is higher. The only problem then becomes Stealth, specifically defeating it with a perception check. Maybe Dex or Int + level?


Howdy folks,

I was surprized to see this thread back at the top, but I'm glad is spawned some useful discussion.

I've held off on breaking down perception completely, and instead have actively focused on simply using it less, and using other skills logically, no more perception to realize pesh addition when you don't even know what pesh is or how it effects the body.

So far it's been working well, I do think it is easy to fall into it as the "go to" skill for things.

As well I'll take a gander at this torchbearer game, sounds interesting, my group tends to be far more mechanics based so something that rely's more heavily on role playing might actually be interesting to try for a change on one of our off days.

Grand Lodge

Talcrion wrote:

....maxed perception, and I can't even say I blame them it is by far the most common skill check I see.(though I'm sure this is partially my fault)

Talcrion- (this may be a bit off topic) You stated it is the most common you see... Maybe too late for these maxed perception players, but one way may be to simply hide the fact there is perception to be made. Have them roll 5-10 rolls at the start of the session and use as needed. Start from the bottom of the list of rolls at times, add bonus based on their actions. Note any perception bonuses they have and apply as needed. They would not be as aware they are near trap, ambush, etc as you are not asking for rolls.


Talcrion wrote:
As well I'll take a gander at this torchbearer game, sounds interesting, my group tends to be far more mechanics based so something that rely's more heavily on role playing might actually be interesting to try for a change on one of our off days.

It has mechanics, though. Inventory is strict and ever worsening conditions are a major part of it. It's just that the crunch is more centered on RP than on simulation. I'll save it for the other thread.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

I'll echo what I said in the last "Perception is too good" thread:

Maybe the problem is that the other skills aren't good enough, not that Perception is too good. Maybe if we combined a bunch of leftover skills into Superskills, the way Listen + Search + Spot got turned into Perception, then the other ones would hold their own.

Imagine if all social interaction was governed by a single skill: Bluff + Diplomacy + Sense Motive = Social Superskill. You'd be throwing checks for that bad boy all day long.

Imagine if all perform skills were merged into one Perform skill, and if all Craft skills were merged into a single Craft skill that also gave you the Master Craftsman feat at X ranks.

The problem with Perception is that it's a conglomeration of multiple skills, and the others haven't formed alliances together yet.

I am going to have to disagree here...as we don't see this with things like Acrobatics (which combined Jump, Tumble, and Balance) or Linguistics( which combined Speak Languages, Decipher Scirpt and Forgery...which I think needs to be broken up again...but that is another topic). The 'problem' is Perception(or whatever the notice stuff skill is) in any RPG is always rolled way more than any other skill because that is just the nature of the situration of being adventuring rather it is in fantasey, super geroes, or science fiction. Breaking up the skill just screws with the players.

Personaly if you feel your players are rolling too many perception checks...then stop asking for them. If the players just rolls it anyway just ignore it. If it is non-pressure situration tell them not to even bother rolling.


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rando1000 wrote:
Why are things like "Perception" a skill? It's more like a natural ability, really.

Disagree -- I have slightly below-average vision, poor hearing, and no sense of smell. But I notice a lot of stuff that people with better senses miss, because I practice awareness of my surroundings.

Warning: Pet Peeve Rant Follows:
I can sketch, too, and people who can't always say, "Oh, you're just naturally artistic!" I try to explain that, while other parents put their drawings on the refrigerator when they were little, my mother would criticize the perspective and tell me to do it over and get it right.

I can do some math, and people who can't always say, "Oh, you're just naturally good at math!" I try to explain how many hundreds of hours of brain-busting study I had to put in to be able to do the simplest math, much less pass the core battery of intro engineering courses, but it falls on deaf ears.

I really, really suck at basketball, but I've spent almost no time practicing it. Michael Jordan is awesome at basketball. Do you think he was born that way?

Things you have to practice a lot are SKILLS, not natural talents.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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Bruunwald wrote:

(You could add a Smell skill, I guess -- spreading the ranks out over several related skills would reduce the potency of any one of them.)

Per Ghostbusters, smell checks should always use the Listen skill.


I like the way you have skills tied to rogue powers in your rule set. I think that it would be cool to have more classes have special "abilities" open up once they reach a skill threshold, and spells requiring certain skills ranks to learn. More innate awesomeness of characters, less WBL awesomeness, all tied to skills.


Great thread.

I think I may try the 'Perception-free' approach in our next campaign.

Might return us to that nostalgic AD&D place where you don't look for secret compartments in a drawer unless you actually say "I look for secret compartments in the drawer."


Wait a second people are using perception for something other then the gestalt of the old spot/listen/search skills. Aside from identifying potions by taste. I don't see anything in the skill description that says.
It can tell
"Why is that barkeep acting strange?" or "Is that tunnel safe?" Unless the reasoning would be readily apparent to your senses.

Perception can tell you whats around you but its up to the player to draw his own conclusions. The cracks in the ceiling could be a sign the ceiling is ready to collapse or it could be nothing. Without knowledge in engineering you can't tell if its still structural sound or not.

Quote:
Why are things like "Perception" a skill? It's more like a natural ability, really.

You can train your senses to better pick up fine detail.

John understands the nature of the game means perception will be the most used skill. Unless you stop having enemies use stealth. If the enemy almost never tries to hide or ambush the PC's and the surprise round goes unused the perception skill loses most of its value.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would just use a different skill. Nature to see the stealth end tiger, dungeonering to notice the monster that looks like a stalagmite, appraise for a gargoyle or statue monster.

Perception can be to negate surprise but not advance notice.

Maybe give the rogue something in return if you've a player with that class.


ok.

lets say regardless of what you do with Perception (break it back into Search/Listen/Spot, replace it with other skills entirely, etc), that you certainly eliminate the 'negate surprise' function altogether, replacing it with a Reflex save.

what might this look like? for example, interaction with Stealth? or, if nobody is intentionally 'sneaking' - how do you determine surprise?

like:

Laurefindel wrote:
If you like the idea of Perception as saving throw but don't want to create a 4th save, fold perception into Reflex. Typically, the classes granting good Ref would be those you'd give good perception.

what does this look like? (keeping it as Reflex)


You can just say that everyone has the ability to perceive things, the same way that all casters have the ability to concentrate when someone bites their kneecaps when they're trying to cast.

Searching-for-things-actively perception: character level + Int
Noticing-thing-about-to-bite-your-knees perception: level + Wis

I know the other guy suggested Dex, but don't do that. Stat's should have some importance in your game, if you're just going to give people stuff based on their best stat you might as well just hard-set all stats to 16/18 and be done with it. This has the additional bonus that the fighter that put some of his point-buy into the skill that literally says it's "awareness" because he's roleplaying is now getting an actual mechanical reward for RPing instead of being a lame min/maxer.


GeneticDrift wrote:

I would just use a different skill. Nature to see the stealth end tiger, dungeonering to notice the monster that looks like a stalagmite, appraise for a gargoyle or statue monster.

Perception can be to negate surprise but not advance notice.

Maybe give the rogue something in return if you've a player with that class.

Thus us actually a pretty neat idea.


I think it would be a good idea to use the knowledge skills in place of "passive" perception, and reserve the actual perception skill to be more like Search. As some have suggested, use Dungeoneering to detect traps underground, Nature to detect an ambush outside, Local to spot trouble looming in a nearby alley, etc. It would increase the desire to spread the skill points around more, as well as the use/value of knowledge skills, which IMO have often been underappreciated.


Reflex DCs to avoid Surprise:

use the Perception DCs listed under that skill?

10/15 if both sides are not sneaking and both unawares?

10+Stealth against the rogue creeping up on you?

skills scale much faster than saving throws, but saving throws auto-fail/succeed on 1/20, so is this fair?


Gherrick wrote:
I think it would be a good idea to use the knowledge skills in place of "passive" perception, and reserve the actual perception skill to be more like Search. As some have suggested, use Dungeoneering to detect traps underground, Nature to detect an ambush outside, Local to spot trouble looming in a nearby alley, etc. It would increase the desire to spread the skill points around more, as well as the use/value of knowledge skills, which IMO have often been underappreciated.

So basically screw over your players because its likely they won't have that wide variety of skills available?

Should you likewise eliminate stealth ahd have knowledge skills used to hide in various terrain. Why should four or five skills be used to spot an ambush but only one skill to mount one.


I think changing how one thinks of perception would help.

Basically perception is supposed to be an awareness of one's surroundings, or the ability to notice small details. I think we need to change how perception is used rather then just dismissing it. Though you might consider making it a feat tree.

What if someone wants to be like Sherlock Holmes or Monk and notice all kinds of small details that tell them things? Simple solution, let them make a check and tell them the result of them noticing things, but this use must be actively used rather then passive.

I generally use perception as a GM to see if the characters are paying to their surroundings or if they are distracted, when something is about to happen, and then I let players use it when looking for additional details. Basically, change how you use the perception skill.

I find this better then just describing things for two reasons,
One, if I only add details that are important, then players will always know that any details I mention are something to follow up on, thus mentioning a small detail that leads to a secret door will always result in the players finding the secret door. If I want the players to absolutely find the secret door, then I'll just them they found it but usually I I want there to be a chance of them finding it but not have be a sure thing, thus I need there to be a check of some sort to see whether they find it or not.
Two, the only way to avoid the above sure thing is to give so many details that the players can't follow up on everything, but this taxes ones creativity heavily and makes everything take longer.

The real problem is that perception mechanic or otherwise is important and even in real life, it can mean the difference between life and death. Now in the game, combat is far less lethal but perception is still a vital skill fluff-wise, if you don't want players using it as a skill then you need to find a solution that isn't just "dump in a trash bin."

Basically, either change how you use the skill, make it a free skill (basically they get it at max or half ranks automatically without spending points in it), make it a feat tree, or make it a save.

Whatever you do, it must improve as characters gain levels, or you'll end up with stealth, secrets, and hidden trap issues as players will never notice a thing a few levels into the game.


Lord Vukodlak wrote:
Gherrick wrote:
I think it would be a good idea to use the knowledge skills in place of "passive" perception, and reserve the actual perception skill to be more like Search. As some have suggested, use Dungeoneering to detect traps underground, Nature to detect an ambush outside, Local to spot trouble looming in a nearby alley, etc. It would increase the desire to spread the skill points around more, as well as the use/value of knowledge skills, which IMO have often been underappreciated.

So basically screw over your players because its likely they won't have that wide variety of skills available?

Should you likewise eliminate stealth ahd have knowledge skills used to hide in various terrain. Why should four or five skills be used to spot an ambush but only one skill to mount one.

Why do your players not have skills? Also, why wouldn't the players - upon learning that all skills are important - level up those skills?

Most of the parties I'm in have a wide scattering of skills among all the players. Our fighter is thrilled when his Know(Engineering) becomes important. When delving in an ancient temple, the cleric's Know(Religion) will allow him to create a rough map of the place based on his knowledge of how temples are laid out.

More useful skills means more spotlight for all the characters unless the players stubbornly refuse to put points in anything other than Perception.


Democratus wrote:
Lord Vukodlak wrote:
Gherrick wrote:
I think it would be a good idea to use the knowledge skills in place of "passive" perception, and reserve the actual perception skill to be more like Search. As some have suggested, use Dungeoneering to detect traps underground, Nature to detect an ambush outside, Local to spot trouble looming in a nearby alley, etc. It would increase the desire to spread the skill points around more, as well as the use/value of knowledge skills, which IMO have often been underappreciated.

So basically screw over your players because its likely they won't have that wide variety of skills available?

Should you likewise eliminate stealth ahd have knowledge skills used to hide in various terrain. Why should four or five skills be used to spot an ambush but only one skill to mount one.

Why do your players not have skills? Also, why wouldn't the players - upon learning that all skills are important - level up those skills?

Most of the parties I'm in have a wide scattering of skills among all the players. Our fighter is thrilled when his Know(Engineering) becomes important. When delving in an ancient temple, the cleric's Know(Religion) will allow him to create a rough map of the place based on his knowledge of how temples are laid out.

More useful skills means more spotlight for all the characters unless the players stubbornly refuse to put points in anything other than Perception.

If, for example, detecting an ambush is an Opposed Stealth roll vs the knowledge appropriate for the area, the sneaker needs to max one skill to be effective everywhere, the party all have to max all the appropriate Knowledge skill to keep up. With 4 PCs it's possible to have one PC with each Knowledge skill maxes, but that still means the other 3 will be surprised in every ambush.

The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have gaps.

If you want to make Perception less necessary, change the rules so that one character making the roll can alert his companions. One maxed out perception character can handle most of the searching, but he can't keep his companions from being surprised, so they all need to pump Perception.


thejeff wrote:
The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have...

This is why there is more than one person in a party. You work as a team to cover each other's gaps.


Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have...

This is why there is more than one person in a party. You work as a team to cover each other's gaps.

Except with some skills, like Perception, you can't. In an ambush, you only get to act in the surprise round if you make your own personal Perception check.

If you split perception up so that it's actually covered by different knowledge skills, you'd each have to have a bunch of them maxed out, which won't happen so most PCs will always be surprised.


thejeff wrote:
Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have...

This is why there is more than one person in a party. You work as a team to cover each other's gaps.

Except with some skills, like Perception, you can't. In an ambush, you only get to act in the surprise round if you make your own personal Perception check.

If you split perception up so that it's actually covered by different knowledge skills, you'd each have to have a bunch of them maxed out, which won't happen so most PCs will always be surprised.

1) This means that different characters can shine at different points. That dwarf with all the ranks in Know(Dungeoneering) will be difficult to ambush in a cave complex. The druid with Know(Nature) will be difficult to ambush in the woods. These make perfect sense.

2) There's nothing that prevents you from having Perception overlap with these skills as well. The druid AND the rogue could be tough to ambush in the woods, while the dwarf AND the rogue could be tough to ambush underground.

3) What's wrong with being surprised? It makes for interesting and challenging situations. It sometimes seems that too many player never expect their characters to be on the back foot.


Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have...

This is why there is more than one person in a party. You work as a team to cover each other's gaps.

Except with some skills, like Perception, you can't. In an ambush, you only get to act in the surprise round if you make your own personal Perception check.

If you split perception up so that it's actually covered by different knowledge skills, you'd each have to have a bunch of them maxed out, which won't happen so most PCs will always be surprised.

1) This means that different characters can shine at different points. That dwarf with all the ranks in Know(Dungeoneering) will be difficult to ambush in a cave complex. The druid with Know(Nature) will be difficult to ambush in the woods. These make perfect sense.

2) There's nothing that prevents you from having Perception overlap with these skills as well. The druid AND the rogue could be tough to ambush in the woods, while the dwarf AND the rogue could be tough to ambush underground.

3) What's wrong with being surprised? It makes for interesting and challenging situations. It sometimes seems that too many player never expect their characters to be on the back foot.

3) Given that it's the primary reason for character's to pump Perception in the first place, I'll say that it'd be wildly unpopular. Justifiably so, given the rocket tag nature of PF at higher levels.

2) Except the argument in this thread was ditching Perception. Or at least making it less critical.

1) It doesn't help much to shine if you can't help your companions out. If the rest of the group gets caught flat-footed in the ambush and there's nothing you can do to warn them, that's not a great way to shine.


thejeff wrote:
Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Democratus wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The problem with "All skills are important" is that you can't max out all skills. Int based casters, bards and rogues can come closest, but even they are going to have...

This is why there is more than one person in a party. You work as a team to cover each other's gaps.

Except with some skills, like Perception, you can't. In an ambush, you only get to act in the surprise round if you make your own personal Perception check.

If you split perception up so that it's actually covered by different knowledge skills, you'd each have to have a bunch of them maxed out, which won't happen so most PCs will always be surprised.

1) This means that different characters can shine at different points. That dwarf with all the ranks in Know(Dungeoneering) will be difficult to ambush in a cave complex. The druid with Know(Nature) will be difficult to ambush in the woods. These make perfect sense.

2) There's nothing that prevents you from having Perception overlap with these skills as well. The druid AND the rogue could be tough to ambush in the woods, while the dwarf AND the rogue could be tough to ambush underground.

3) What's wrong with being surprised? It makes for interesting and challenging situations. It sometimes seems that too many player never expect their characters to be on the back foot.

3) Given that it's the primary reason for character's to pump Perception in the first place, I'll say that it'd be wildly unpopular. Justifiably so, given the rocket tag nature of PF at higher levels.

2) Except the argument in this thread was ditching Perception. Or at least making it less critical.

1) It doesn't help much to shine if you can't help your companions out. If the rest of the group gets caught flat-footed in the ambush and there's nothing you can do to warn them, that's not a great way to shine.

At higher levels, getting ambushed while walking through the woods isn't a very common problem. By then it's a rare day that a party even needs a road to travel.

And you can't help your companions out with a standard action? Isn't that the exact type of action needed to cast a spell? Or charge? Or take position giving soft cover to another character? If you can't help your companions during the surprise round then it doesn't matter if you perceive an ambush or not.

Personally, I don't worry so much about how skill checks affect characters at high levels. Spells whisk you all over the universe, true seeing reveals the invisible, and you can call down angels from Elysium.

The vast majority of game time I've seen takes place at lower levels. This is the gritty place where you are still slogging on foot, worried that a dire bear or a gang of bandits might end the party.

Having a single skill that is so obvious that everyone should take it is a weakness in a system, not a strength.


If there's one area that is pretty weak in Pathfinder, it is the skill system. And I blame it on the Gygaxian evolution of the game where skills didn't really come into play until they were an optional mechanic (non-weapon proficiencies) in AD&D 2nd Ed. The problem is they are too nebulous as is. The other problem is the emphasis of Pathfinder and D&D seems to be more combat heavy, with a heavy portion of its fans being into just dungeon crawling. Regardless, they are too broad:

Perform = Sing, Dance, play any instrument, give a speech, give an acting performance and possibly some kind of juggling or athletic display depending on your GM.

Acrobatics = ANYTHING athletic. Doesn't matter if you've trained as a gymnast or not. Your roll is the same as the sprinter.

Perception = Anything you see, hear, touch, sense, search. A forensics expert analyzing a crime scene is the same as a ranger looking for pray or an astronomer gazing at the stars.

I'd like to see Paizo go to what they're flirting with in the tracking skill; Basically it's somewhat similar to a White Wolf model or Star Wars D6 model where you have a list of skills that are highly specialized and those are relatively easy to raise at each level, but become more expensive to raise as the skill improves (this is also somewhat realistic). Those skills are all linked to a list of the broad parent abilities (let's call them talents) which are partly attribute based, and are much more expensive and difficult increase but increasing one positively impacts all the other smaller skills linked to it.

If they can do it for Track linked to Survival, they can do it for everything else. And making a player pay the current level of the skill in skill points to raise it would solve the problem of DC inflation where once your character is in the teens, the die roll becomes almost arbitrary. It would allow the DM to keep the DC checks relatively the same through the progression of a campaign since a +6 is pretty expensive to get.

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