How does perception work when looking for traps?


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58 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 8 people marked this as a favorite.

The actual question is bolded at the bottom. Everything else is just evidence to support a possible point.

In addition I do not have access to the Ultimate Intrigue so if it has more information I do not have it.

Whatever you think the answer is I would like for you to press the FAQ button. Thanks.
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The CRB says:

Quote:
Action: Most Perception checks are reactive, made in response to observable stimulus. Intentionally searching for stimulus is a move action.

However "observable stimulus" has never really ever been explained.

Many of use who came from 3.5 assumed that you must intentionally look for a trap or hidden door, but the rules dont really say that.

The unchained book which changes how actions work says the following:

Quote:
Search: You use Perception to search a room for salient hidden creatures or clues, or you make a detailed search of a 10-foot-square area to detect traps, triggers, hidden objects, or footprints. When you search an area, this action has the complex subtype

That shows evidence that the move action is the intent, but it is not absolute proof.

Later Mark(game rules designer) says:

Quote:
While the other designers have told me it was an omission, we certainly need to state it and rectify the omission, to prevent the confusion that has led to the current state of affairs. In my mind, Unchained is a good start. I'll try to get it up on the FAQ for a wider audience as well!

This still does not make it a 100% certifiable rule since it was not actually written that way.

The goal of this post is to get an answer as to whether or not the Unchained book saying that checks for traps and limited to a 10 foot area is accurate.

Now I have to write the question so it can be FAQ'd.

Is it correct that the rules for searching for a trap, hidden door and similar things require a move action, and limit you to checking a 10 foot area?


Clicked the FAQ button for you.

Good luck getting a definitive answer.


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I would say that you should look at the abilities that enhance finding traps to define the restrictions of standard trapfinding.

There is a rogue talent called Trap Spotter that is defined thus:

Trap Spotter (Ex): Whenever a rogue with this talent comes within 10 feet of a trap, she receives an immediate Perception skill check to notice the trap. This check should be made in secret by the GM.

This is a reactive perception check, which means searching for traps cannot be reactive by default. According to the rules for perception, a non-reactive perception check for whatever reason (active searching for anything) is a move action and according to the unchained book, says is restricted to a 10-foot-square area.

Seems pretty definitive to me.

Unless it is only the question on the restriction to a 10' square that you are questioning, not the move action aspect.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...that or the Trap Spotter gives them a second chance to notice the trap when they get within 10' of it. Something that may very well save an allies life.

There is nothing in the Trap Spotter that says they don't get any normal checks for traps.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

A much needed FAQ!


BretI wrote:

...that or the Trap Spotter gives them a second chance to notice the trap when they get within 10' of it. Something that may very well save an allies life.

There is nothing in the Trap Spotter that says they don't get any normal checks for traps.

Actively searching for traps would kind of supersede passively searching for traps. There is nothing in Trap Spotter that would imply a 2nd perception check against a trap that was missed when it was actively searched for as a move action. It just allows a perception check to find the trap when not actively searching.


Don't we need to compile lists of threads, showing that the question keeps coming up?

Here's the one that I think inspired this FAQ request. I hope someone (else!) takes the time to search for others.

It's a serious issue for GMs who don't just eliminate traps from their game. Note that evidently (based on discussion on this board) some have, partly based on their interpretation of how easy it is to spot a trap.

I believe that a party without a roguish sort with Trap Spotter must limit their movement per round to 10 feet, before taking their second move action to search the next 10 feet, if they want to avoid all traps. Their only alternative is to cruise blithely ahead without making Perception checks at all, only stopping to search when they're actively suspicious of something.

Other GMs seem to think that if characters without Trap Spotter move at half-speed, they qualify to make reactive Perception checks for the territory they're walking through -- and might well spot a trap's trigger before setting it off.

Still others seem to think that parties should be able to get such reactive checks even if they're hustling; that everyone always has a chance to observe details around them -- albeit possibly at a higher DC.

20 5-ft squares per minute, vs. 60, vs. 120 -- if there's a time crunch in a big dungeon, it could really matter. And it matters to the value of even placing traps in the first place.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It also matters when traps are used in a combat situation.

If you don't get a passive perception check, that CR1 Pit Trap placed just in front of a group of orcish archers is a lot more deadly if you aren't given a passive perception check before stepping into the area.

Heck, even a set of bear traps set out along the obvious charge lane and then covered with some dirt (call it Perception 10) are a lot more dangerous than putting mooks there.

I know of a few PFS scenarios that use traps in a combat situation. I'm sure there are still a lot that I haven't seen yet.


BretI wrote:

It also matters when traps are used in a combat situation.

If you don't get a passive perception check, that CR1 Pit Trap placed just in front of a group of orcish archers is a lot more deadly if you aren't given a passive perception check before stepping into the area.

Heck, even a set of bear traps set out along the obvious charge lane and then covered with some dirt (call it Perception 10) are a lot more dangerous than putting mooks there.

I know of a few PFS scenarios that use traps in a combat situation. I'm sure there are still a lot that I haven't seen yet.

Sounds like an effective tactic -- and a good reason for having a rogue in the group -- or at least someone that can take trap spotter.

Do you have links to these scenarios (downloadable)? I'd like to see the examples.

Quote:


Other GMs seem to think that if characters without Trap Spotter move at half-speed, they qualify to make reactive Perception checks for the territory they're walking through -- and might well spot a trap's trigger before setting it off.

I would say that this is accurate. Moving "at half speed" is taking a single move action a round to dedicate to looking around while using the other move action to move. Passive Perception while hustling is bogus on it's face. It nerfs traps massively.


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bitter lily wrote:

Don't we need to compile lists of threads, showing that the question keeps coming up?

Here's the one that I think inspired this FAQ request. I hope someone (else!) takes the time to search for others.

Here are a few. The same question has been asked repeatedly since 2009.

Finding Traps
Trap-Spotter: Is it needed?
Spotting Traps
How many perception checks per turn?


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Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.

Active perception check is "searching for traps" to find them prior to their triggering.

Passive Perception check, requiring a thing to be in the category of "observable stimulus" is not possible for traps -- except by those with trap spotter or it's equivalent.


Quintain wrote:


Quote:


Other GMs seem to think that if characters without Trap Spotter move at half-speed, they qualify to make reactive Perception checks for the territory they're walking through -- and might well spot a trap's trigger before setting it off.
I would say that this is accurate. Moving "at half speed" is taking a single move action a round to dedicate to looking around while using the other move action to move. Passive Perception while hustling is bogus on it's face. It nerfs traps massively.

Note that with the "can only search a 10' square" rule, you're not at half speed, you're at 10'/round.

Half speed, using a move action to move and a standard for a Perception check was common practice before that rules clarification.

If passive perception while hustling is bogus, do you allow it for ambushes/surprise rounds and the like? Or is it only a problem for traps?


Quote:


If passive perception while hustling is bogus, do you allow it for ambushes/surprise rounds and the like? Or is it only a problem for traps?

If you are hustling (which means not actively paying attention to your surroundings), you better have something that allows you to take actions in the surprise rounds.


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Quintain wrote:

Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.

Active perception check is "searching for traps" to find them prior to their triggering.

Passive Perception check, requiring a thing to be in the category of "observable stimulus" is not possible for traps -- except by those with trap spotter or it's equivalent.

Ambushers are also by their nature hidden things. Shouldn't they also not be in the category of "observable stimulus"?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quintain wrote:
BretI wrote:

It also matters when traps are used in a combat situation.

If you don't get a passive perception check, that CR1 Pit Trap placed just in front of a group of orcish archers is a lot more deadly if you aren't given a passive perception check before stepping into the area.

Heck, even a set of bear traps set out along the obvious charge lane and then covered with some dirt (call it Perception 10) are a lot more dangerous than putting mooks there.

I know of a few PFS scenarios that use traps in a combat situation. I'm sure there are still a lot that I haven't seen yet.

Sounds like an effective tactic -- and a good reason for having a rogue in the group -- or at least someone that can take trap spotter.

Do you have links to these scenarios (downloadable)? I'd like to see the examples.

Two PFS Scenarios I'm aware of:

The question isn't if it is effective. It is a question of if by not giving a perception check is it too effective -- well past the expected CR.

Traps have a perception check to allow you a chance to go around them. If you don't give that perception check, are you making them more effective (denying an expected defense) than intended.

Note that even with a rogue that has used one of their talents for Trap Spotter, you wouldn't be safe from this sort of thing. The rogue usually doesn't lead the charge in combat if they want to survive.


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IIRC, you can only detect a trap if you're actively looking for traps (or has the Trap Spotter Rogue Talent)... Which menas if someone places a bright neon pink bear-trap in your otherwise beige-colored dining room, you don't see it unless you're looking for traps on your own house.

Brilliant!


thejeff wrote:
Quintain wrote:

Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.

Active perception check is "searching for traps" to find them prior to their triggering.

Passive Perception check, requiring a thing to be in the category of "observable stimulus" is not possible for traps -- except by those with trap spotter or it's equivalent.

Ambushers are also by their nature hidden things. Shouldn't they also not be in the category of "observable stimulus"?

Yes, thus you don't get a passive check against hidden people. The free perception check for deciding surprise round is because they are initiating combat and thus perhaps giving themselves away.


Quintain wrote:
Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.

I'm inclined to think this is RAI, even if it doesn't always make sense. In my own games I might do this on a case by case basis (some traps are more observable than others - pressure plate versus pressure plate under a rug) or give penalties to the perception check for careless adventurers.


thejeff wrote:
Ambushers are also by their nature hidden things. Shouldn't they also not be in the category of "observable stimulus"?

If they are hidden, they aren't. They get the surprise round if you aren't looking for them.

If you have the ability to take actions in the surprise round and a really high initiative, you can reverse the ambush and catch them flat footed if things go your way.

Quote:


Traps have a perception check to allow you a chance to go around them. If you don't give that perception check, are you making them more effective (denying an expected defense) than intended.

Note that even with a rogue that has used one of their talents for Trap Spotter, you wouldn't be safe from this sort of thing. The rogue usually doesn't lead the charge in combat if they want to survive

The party should be smart enough to not blindly charge into combat the instant they see a bad guy. Or they will end up paying the consequences.

Tucker's Kobolds are legend for a reason.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BretI wrote:
Quintain wrote:
BretI wrote:

It also matters when traps are used in a combat situation.

If you don't get a passive perception check, that CR1 Pit Trap placed just in front of a group of orcish archers is a lot more deadly if you aren't given a passive perception check before stepping into the area.

Heck, even a set of bear traps set out along the obvious charge lane and then covered with some dirt (call it Perception 10) are a lot more dangerous than putting mooks there.

I know of a few PFS scenarios that use traps in a combat situation. I'm sure there are still a lot that I haven't seen yet.

Sounds like an effective tactic -- and a good reason for having a rogue in the group -- or at least someone that can take trap spotter.

Do you have links to these scenarios (downloadable)? I'd like to see the examples.

** spoiler omitted **

The question isn't if it is effective. It is a question of if by not giving a perception check is it too effective -- well past the expected CR.

Traps have a perception check to allow you a chance to go around them. If you don't give that perception check, are you making them more effective (denying an expected defense) than intended.

Note that even with a rogue that has used one of their talents for Trap Spotter, you wouldn't be safe from this sort of thing. The rogue usually doesn't lead the charge in combat if they want to survive.

Traps in combat should really be called hazards.

But, this sounds like a communication/expectation issue. There is a tradeoff for a party between moving fast, risking traps, and keeping buffs up and going more slowly, carefully, and using more time. As long as players and GMs agree that characters are not constantly searching for traps, players can act accordingly.

After a trap has been sprung, I think allowing reactive perception checks for other similar traps in the combat is reasonable. Characters know what to look for once they've seen it.


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Quote:
But, this sounds like a communication/expectation issue.

Personally I think it's kind of a verisimilitude issue.

The idea that it's completely and utterly impossible to notice something unless you're actively looking for it is a bit much for me.

Sovereign Court

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Squiggit wrote:
Quote:
But, this sounds like a communication/expectation issue.

Personally I think it's kind of a verisimilitude issue.

The idea that it's completely and utterly impossible to notice something unless you're actively looking for it is a bit much for me.

Verisimilitude cuts both ways. It's one thing to notice the discoloration on the floor, it's another to realize that means it is a spiked pit trap and not a stain. It makes sense with how humans work that you can't recognize some things unless you are looking for them.

The Exchange

Tabernero wrote:

IIRC, you can only detect a trap if you're actively looking for traps (or has the Trap Spotter Rogue Talent)... Which menas if someone places a bright neon pink bear-trap in your otherwise beige-colored dining room, you don't see it unless you're looking for traps on your own house.

Brilliant!

having slipped on a 8"x11" sheet of paper (white) on a green tiled floor before (in my home) - I can relate to this. Not exactly a "bright neon pink" or "beige-colored"... but close.

Dark Archive

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Chess Pwn wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Quintain wrote:

Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.

Active perception check is "searching for traps" to find them prior to their triggering.

Passive Perception check, requiring a thing to be in the category of "observable stimulus" is not possible for traps -- except by those with trap spotter or it's equivalent.

Ambushers are also by their nature hidden things. Shouldn't they also not be in the category of "observable stimulus"?
Yes, thus you don't get a passive check against hidden people. The free perception check for deciding surprise round is because they are initiating combat and thus perhaps giving themselves away.

RAW characters receive an opposed Perception check (which is technically a passive check) vs the hidden ambushers Stealth checks, as as such as noted above, determine if any characters act in the surprise wound when the ambushers attack. Why wouldn't the character receive a similar passive Perception check against a hidden trap just before it activates? And since traps don't have initiative modifiers, which act 1st in surprise round? Should traps act on initiative count 10 like haunts and if the character is fast enough to react, can discover and avoid the trap?

Further, I don't think any of the other skills are passive. They all require some type of "action" on the character's part, even if the "action" itself doesn't technically consume a free, immediate, swift, move, standard, or full action.

Agree with Ravingdork, FAQ sorely needed since there is no true explanation of whether Perception is a passive, reactive, or both check?


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Apparently we also need a FAQ regarding stealth and ambushes, since some people seem to think you need to be actively searching for them or they automatically succeed.

I guess that makes it easier for rogues to sneak up on people who aren't explicitly using their move actions to actively search.

The Exchange

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_Ozy_ wrote:

Apparently we also need a FAQ regarding stealth and ambushes, since some people seem to think you need to be actively searching for them or they automatically succeed.

I guess that makes it easier for rogues to sneak up on people who aren't explicitly using their move actions to actively search.

depends....

Is it an NPC doing the sneak? then often it succeeds automatically (I've even had it explained to me that "it's boxed text")...

But if it's a PC - than no. "You can't sneak out in the open like that! and the last 5' square is not concealed in any way. So the target saw you and isn't flatfooted... unless you were invisible?"


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_Ozy_ wrote:

Apparently we also need a FAQ regarding stealth and ambushes, since some people seem to think you need to be actively searching for them or they automatically succeed.

I guess that makes it easier for rogues to sneak up on people who aren't explicitly using their move actions to actively search.

Also, if you're actively looking for ambushes are you limited to checking 1 10' square per action? Since some people seem to think "active Perception check" == "search".

The Exchange

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thejeff wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:

Apparently we also need a FAQ regarding stealth and ambushes, since some people seem to think you need to be actively searching for them or they automatically succeed.

I guess that makes it easier for rogues to sneak up on people who aren't explicitly using their move actions to actively search.

Also, if you're actively looking for ambushes are you limited to checking 1 10' square per action? Since some people seem to think "active Perception check" == "search".

this is not a new problem...

Here's a Link to a thread from Oct 24, 2011 where I was posting about a Judge "tell me that my character could only check 1 square per move action TO LOCATE A SNIPER WHO WAS SHOOTING AT THE PARTY!"

it's only been a little over five years sense I posted that...


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Ugh. I've had to remind my GM on more than one occasion that attacking breaks stealth. He's also fond of the 'hidden sniper'.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

In my opinion, there is a meaningful difference between an ambush and a mechanical/magical trap. Characters don't get their automatic check against an ambush until the enemies take a noticeable action, namely attack. To notice an ambush before the enemy chooses to spring it, the characters would need to take move actions to check the area.

The Exchange

Matthew Downie wrote:
bitter lily wrote:

Don't we need to compile lists of threads, showing that the question keeps coming up?

Here's the one that I think inspired this FAQ request. I hope someone (else!) takes the time to search for others.

Here are a few. The same question has been asked repeatedly since 2009.

Finding Traps
Trap-Spotter: Is it needed?
Spotting Traps
How many perception checks per turn?

I'll add in a few more...

Perception-is-not-Search..

Different Perception-checks-for-treasure..

Perception-different-when-playing-for-different-judges..

Why-do-DMs-still-use-the-3-5-Search-rules..


_Ozy_ wrote:
Ugh. I've had to remind my GM on more than one occasion that attacking breaks stealth. He's also fond of the 'hidden sniper'.

Well, Sniping doesn't actually break stealth. You do however get an automatic check with a huge bonus and no nonsense about picking the square to check.

The Exchange

_Ozy_ wrote:
Ugh. I've had to remind my GM on more than one occasion that attacking breaks stealth. He's also fond of the 'hidden sniper'.

If the shooting is "Sniping" it only imposes a penalty (-20), so I would easily be able to find him... if I could just pick the correct 5 foot square on the forest map board he was shooting from...

so heck, why am I complaining?! the 10'x10' rule gives me 4 times as much area "searched" each move action!

edit: Ninja'd! I type to slow...


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KingOfAnything wrote:
In my opinion, there is a meaningful difference between an ambush and a mechanical/magical trap. Characters don't get their automatic check against an ambush until the enemies take a noticeable action, namely attack. To notice an ambush before the enemy chooses to spring it, the characters would need to take move actions to check the area.

I assume you do allow automatic Perception checks to act in the Surprise Round, even if they weren't explicitly searching before.

But to be even clearer, is that a single move action (each) to check the whole area? Or one per 10' square you want to check?

Do you have to enter the 10' square you want to check for ambushers?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I think the 'clarification' about the area searched being a 10x10 square per check was the most backasswards ruling I've seen in awhile.

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thejeff wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
In my opinion, there is a meaningful difference between an ambush and a mechanical/magical trap. Characters don't get their automatic check against an ambush until the enemies take a noticeable action, namely attack. To notice an ambush before the enemy chooses to spring it, the characters would need to take move actions to check the area.

I assume you do allow automatic Perception checks to act in the Surprise Round, even if they weren't explicitly searching before.

But to be even clearer, is that a single move action (each) to check the whole area? Or one per 10' square you want to check?

Do you have to enter the 10' square you want to check for ambushers?

You assume correctly.

I lean toward whole area with applicable distance penalties. This is a purposeful check such as "I check the room for enemies." Especially cautious groups might make checks as they move into a large room to minimize the effect of penalties.

N/A - but, for traps, i don't say you have to enter an area. I usually assume characters are adjacent to an area they are searching, but that is not necessary for visible stimuli.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I think the 'clarification' about the area searched being a 10x10 square per check was the most backasswards ruling I've seen in awhile.

In one way I like it, in others it just makes things worse.

It's one step towards a much needed clarification of the morass of Perception/searching/traps/stealth, but it's only one step and without a thorough rework it just leads to even more confusion.


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It makes sense when you have to search for things that are hidden out of line of sight, like underneath furniture, inside of drawers, and so on. It takes time to move up to objects and look in, around, and underneath them.

It doesn't make sense when you mean you're doing an active visual/auditory scan of the area.


ckdragons wrote:

RAW characters receive an opposed Perception check (which is technically a passive check) vs the hidden ambushers Stealth checks, as as such as noted above, determine if any characters act in the surprise wound when the ambushers attack. Why wouldn't the character receive a similar passive Perception check against a hidden trap just before it activates? And since traps don't have initiative modifiers, which act 1st in surprise round? Should traps act on initiative count 10 like haunts and if the character is fast enough to react, can discover and avoid the trap?

Further, I don't think any of the other skills are passive. They all require some type of "action" on the character's part, even if the "action" itself doesn't technically consume a free, immediate, swift, move, standard, or full action.

Agree with Ravingdork, FAQ sorely needed since there is no true explanation of whether Perception is a passive, reactive, or both check?

The original context of the question was if the characters were hustling, thus consuming their two move actions for the round. In this case, you aren't paying attention enough to warrant a check against a hidden creature and surprise is automatic. (Note: My method/justification, not necessarily RAW or RAI).

Additionally, it is plausible enough that the "passive" perception check is not for the purposes of foiling the ambush (like a perception check foils the triggering of a trap) but a perception check that happens at the start of the ambush that gives enough of a warning for the person to be able to act during the surprise round without special abilities enabling him to do so automatically. Animate creatures aren't 100% immobile and silent until the attack happens. Weapons need to be drawn, components prepared, etc that may give away the ambush enough for a reaction.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Quintain wrote:
Traps by their very nature are hidden things. So they aren't by default in the category of "observable stimulus" -- at least not prior to when they go off.
I'm inclined to think this is RAI, even if it doesn't always make sense. In my own games I might do this on a case by case basis (some traps are more observable than others - pressure plate versus pressure plate under a rug) or give penalties to the perception check for careless adventurers.

Stealth is always an opposed check.

Stealth wrote:
Your Stealth check is opposed by the Perception check of anyone who might notice you.

If the ambushers stealth roll fails to beat the opposed perception roll, you notice them.

At best, well prepared ambushers might have a circumstance bonus, but they are never automatically successful with their stealth.


_Ozy_ wrote:

It makes sense when you have to search for things that are hidden out of line of sight, like underneath furniture, inside of drawers, and so on. It takes time to move up to objects and look in, around, and underneath them.

It doesn't make sense when you mean you're doing an active visual/auditory scan of the area.

It makes less sense when you are moving down what appears to be an otherwise empty hallway.

I personally allow movement at half speed in hallways while searching for traps, but require specific callouts for doors, rooms, chests, etc.

If in combat, it's a move action unless you have the rogue talent.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
It makes sense with how humans work that you can't recognize some things unless you are looking for them.

Not being able to recognize something should be a feature of failing your perception check, not hardcoded into the game though.

It makes sense that someone who's particularly observant might be able to notice something's wrong while walking normally. As is it's literally impossible, no matter how perceptive someone is or how low the perception DC on the trap is, unless you have a specific rogue talent and even that's not going to help you depending on the type of trap.


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CRB page 416 Trap Type: Mechanical: wrote:
Creatures that succeed on a perception check detect a trap before it is triggered
CRB page 416 Trap Type: Magic: wrote:
A succesful perception check (DC 25 + spell level) detects a magic trap before it goes off

There is an (admittedly non-concrete) implication here that the check is reactive and freely granted by the encounter with the trap, as there is no call that you need to qualify for the check. Much like not having to state that you want to save, the process is implied as automatic.

The rules do not state:

"Creatures that ask to perform and succeed on a perception check detect a trap before it is triggered"

Nor are there any other clarifications/checklists listed

This is, however, thrown into doubt by the James Jacobs' 2012 input on the matter of the Trap Spotter talent (that is, also, I remind people, not an FAQ):

James Jacobs wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

Hi James!

Can you clue us GMs in on the intent behind the Trap Spotter rogue talent and normal perception rules? If a non-trap spotting PC gets within line of sight of a trap, do they get a "reactive" perception check? (Per the perception rule "Most Perception checks are reactive, made in response to observable stimulus.") Or does a trap not count as a "stimulus" in that sense and any non-trap spotter will have to spend a move action to make an active perception check to search for traps? Would other hidden things (like stealthy creatures) work the same way, or different?

The trap spotter talent lets a rogue make a perception check to notice ALL traps he comes wihtin range of. Normally, you have to tell the GM that you're looking for traps.

There is a problem here:

  • A designer has stated something that appears to contradict a (soft) implication of a rule, as written.

  • And, there is no more concrete FAQ backing that up.

    The application of the designer's statement leads to an increase of repeated actions that need to be verbalized every time you encounter a new room/object.

    This is extremely irritating to put into practice: having to say "I check for traps" every time you enter a tavern, or buy a hotdog. It drastically slows down gameplay in action, and leads to a hostile relationship between players and the GM enforcing the "YOU MUST SAY THE WORDS" policy.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I love most of James Jacobs' clarifications on topics (and generally use him as a stand-in FAQ system on topics that don't have them, because they are generally fair and make sense), but I am of the belief that he is either incorrect in this case, or has the correct interpretation of a rule, but that rule desperately needs an errata.

    In the instance where such an event occurred, people might ask:

    But what does trap spotter do?

    Two possibilities:

    1. You get to spot the trap 10 feet out instead of 5. The answer is that it is a bad talent, that only seems great if you read the rules in a way that interprets trap-searching as a verbalised only action. It was obviously written because of a similar interpretation of the rules that James Jacobs is using above: thus, if it is an incorrect interpretation, it's either mostly terrible, or would need re-writing to re-establish it as a useful tool.

    2. You get one check at 10 feet and an additional check at 5/as you are about to step on the trap. This is obviously still very strong!

    Regardless of whether James is correct:

    We need an FAQ. or more importantly a concrete explanation on how traps are expected to work in a game session:

  • What checks are free and when do they occur at what distance?
  • What checks are only-if-asked-for?
  • Searching speed/area/time consequences

    -----------

    Personal Musing:

    This comes from the merging of spot and search from 3.5 into perception in PF, but not clarifying clearly enough when such things are applicable. It used to be clear cut. Spot got your spidey sense going, and search did the hard work of finding the whole mechanism/contraption.

    Since they merged the two, they needed to explicitly clarify the ramifications of such things, with regards to traps: but unfortunately it all got left as implications that it would go one or the other way.

    Perfect candidate for an FAQ, Errata or even a blog post, in my humble opinion! :)


  • The James Jacobs rule doesn't mean saying "I check for traps" every time you enter a tavern. It can be done like this:

    Player: "I'm moving slowly everywhere, checking for traps, until I say otherwise."
    GM: "You know your buffs will wear off soon?"
    Player: "I'm OK with that."

    Later:
    GM: "You're back out in the wilderness. I take it you're no longer looking for traps?"
    Player: "No, these are hostile woods and we're low on health. There might be snares or other ambushes. We're going to proceed very slowly and carefully back to town."
    GM: "You might have to spend the night in the woods if you're walking that slowly."
    Player: "That's OK. We have Hide Campsite and plenty of food and we're not in a hurry."

    Later:
    GM: "You've made it back to town. Now will you stop looking for traps every few feet?"
    Player: "Hmm... I don't entirely trust that tavern we're going to. They might be planning to rob us of our new loot."
    GM: "Everyone will give you strange looks if you search for traps everywhere."
    Player: "OK, forget it. I won't bother searching for traps until the next dungeon."


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Matthew Downie wrote:

    The James Jacobs rule doesn't mean saying "I check for traps" every time you enter a tavern. It can be done like this:

    Player: "I'm moving slowly everywhere, checking for traps, until I say otherwise."
    GM: "You know your buffs will wear off soon?"
    Player: "I'm OK with that."

    Later:
    GM: "You're back out in the wilderness. I take it you're no longer looking for traps?"
    Player: "No, these are hostile woods and we're low on health. There might be snares or other ambushes. We're going to proceed very slowly and carefully back to town."
    GM: "You might have to spend the night in the woods if you're walking that slowly."
    Player: "That's OK. We have Hide Campsite and plenty of food and we're not in a hurry."

    Later:
    GM: "You've made it back to town. Now will you stop looking for traps every few feet?"
    Player: "Hmm... I don't entirely trust that tavern we're going to. They might be planning to rob us of our new loot."
    GM: "Everyone will give you strange looks if you search for traps everywhere."
    Player: "OK, forget it. I won't bother searching for traps until the next dungeon."

    3.5 had spot: none of the above was necessary insofar as spotting the need to search.

    Since Pathfinder does not have spot/search, for traps they've either:

    1. Turned it all into search (a la James Jacobs' response)
    2. turned it all into spot (as implied but never explicitly stated by the trap rules)

    One removes the act of searching for traps from a list of actions players take.

    The other slows down gameplay both from a player's perspective as well as within an in-game perspective.

    The thing is: spot/listen/search being rolled into one skill was meant to streamline the game and reduce mechanical bloat: the "all search all the time" option runs contrary to that, as it is more cumbersome and difficult to achieve/apply than the previous edition.

    There's an argument to be made that automatic with no search needed ever is too streamlined: but that's a lesser evil, in my opinion.


    The way I do it, there are two modes: the players are moving cautiously (using stealth and searching for traps) or they're hustling and moving at full speed. It doesn't slow things down from the player's perspective by more than a few seconds when you announce you're switching between the two modes a couple of times a session.


    Matthew Downie wrote:
    The way I do it, there are two modes: the players are moving cautiously (using stealth and searching for traps) or they're hustling and moving at full speed. It doesn't slow things down from the player's perspective by more than a few seconds when you announce you're switching between the two modes a couple of times a session.

    I actually like the way you do things - but the rules don't exactly hand that to players, hence the need for a FAQ :P


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Matthew Downie wrote:
    The way I do it, there are two modes: the players are moving cautiously (using stealth and searching for traps) or they're hustling and moving at full speed. It doesn't slow things down from the player's perspective by more than a few seconds when you announce you're switching between the two modes a couple of times a session.

    Except with the rule that you can only check a 10' square at a time, "moving cautiously" is down to 10'/round, not a normal full move.

    That's how I've always done it, but the 10' thing puts a big crimp in it.


    Moving ten feet a round is usually OK... if you're not in combat.

    If we assume that traps by default have no observable stimulus, then it is practically impossible to spot a trap in combat (probably the most interesting kind of trap), so all you can do is blunder into them unless you have a trap-spotting ability of some kind.

    But maybe that's OK. Rogue characters need to feel useful sometimes.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    thejeff wrote:
    Matthew Downie wrote:
    The way I do it, there are two modes: the players are moving cautiously (using stealth and searching for traps) or they're hustling and moving at full speed. It doesn't slow things down from the player's perspective by more than a few seconds when you announce you're switching between the two modes a couple of times a session.

    Except with the rule that you can only check a 10' square at a time, "moving cautiously" is down to 10'/round, not a normal full move.

    That's how I've always done it, but the 10' thing puts a big crimp in it.

    Making players roll every 10' does nothing but bog down gameplay.

    I've gone down that road before and after a few hours of my explicitly declaring and rolling for every single search the table has always decided to move on with the game and just agree that I am moving half speed and looking for traps.

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