Seek questions


Rules Discussion


Hi,

Ive been trying to wrap my head around this. Not even sure this is a specific P2e question or more about how things are presumed to work in PnP-RPGs and I'm a bit of an novice GM.

Here are some questions i have about Seek:

1) A PC walks into a room. There is no encounter but there is some hidden treasure with a predetermined perception DC. Would you as a GM automatically roll a secret perception check or would you not let the player spot the treasure unless the PC states they are Seeking?

2) Example above; does it really take 1 action out of combat to do a seek on a 10' range around the character? That's 2 seconds. Or is the action only meant to be used in combat to seek for undetected characters etc. If so, how long does Seek take during exploration?

3) I'm playing Age of Ashes right now. In many places it says if the players spend 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes searching a room, they find X (sometimes in combination with perception checks). Would you as a GM tell them these times before they start or just have the PCs decide how much they waste in each room looting?

Any input would be much appreciated.


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Hi! Welcome to the Hobby!

1) If the items are hidden in any way, they must specifically declare to be searching or looking around before you roll their Perception checks. Depending on their exploration activity, however, they could have this happen automatically. (They are Searching as they move).

2) Seek is only to detect unseen enemies. It's similar to the above "Searching for stuff" activity. Seeking out of combat is still 1 action to spot creatures that are in your line of sight, but actually searching for items is more time consuming since you have to open containers and rummage around. Probably at least 1 minute if searching for treasure.

3) You do not tell them these times unless they ask (see below), but you also don't need them to specifically declare they're searching 30 minutes. They just have to convey that they plan to search thoroughly or that they'll be searching while someone else is doing Treat Wounds or some other 10 minute activity.

If they say they want to search, you should tell them that "There's a lot of rubble here, it will take at least X minutes for a thorough search". Then if they agree you can let them find the stuff.

It is expected that some of these "hard to find" items will just be missed and never obtained. If the players enter a room and don't make any effort to find them, you have no obligation to help them. If the players are newbies you should probably remind them "Remember there may be hidden loot if you search carefully" a few times during the first dungeon.


I am no expert but in general: If your players aren't in a fight, they are in exploration mode.

Have your players tell you which exploration mode activity they are doing. My table has given me a default exploration mode list that they are doing unless they tell me differently.

Run exploration mode in ten minute chunks of time. Frequently after a fight some of my players will be spending that ten minutes refocusing or doing medicine checks on their teammates. Others might be repairing shields or searching for loot.

1)PC would have to search to trigger the secret roll to see if they found the item. I do a secret roll per player searching (page 480 search activity)

2)Seek is used in combat, in exploration mode it is the search activity.

3)
We are running Age of Ashes right now as well. For the rooms requiring multiple 10 minutes of searching, I provide the players with a narrative like "You have managed to search a third of the room". My players will frequently change what they are doing for each ten minutes.


Flambe, I like that "third of the room" prompt.

Also might need to use similar prompts in rooms that have no loot, if cluttered enough that is.


Awesome. Thanks all for providing clarification on this. For some reason I just didn't think to check the Search exploration activity text since most of these seemed to me to be for "long distance travel" and not walking in a dungeon.

I especially liked the "1/3 of the room" thing and "10 minutes at a time".

And yes, I did mention to my PCs that they are not really searching the rooms for anything... but they seem to be ok with that so far.

Thanks again.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Flambe wrote:

2)Seek is used in combat, in exploration mode it is the search activity.

Though it might be relevant to remember that all the Search activity does is generate Seek checks, so any benefits they have to Seek will all still apply while they Search.


Zhamer00 wrote:

Hi,

Ive been trying to wrap my head around this. Not even sure this is a specific P2e question or more about how things are presumed to work in PnP-RPGs and I'm a bit of an novice GM.

Here are some questions i have about Seek:

1) A PC walks into a room. There is no encounter but there is some hidden treasure with a predetermined perception DC. Would you as a GM automatically roll a secret perception check or would you not let the player spot the treasure unless the PC states they are Seeking?

2) Example above; does it really take 1 action out of combat to do a seek on a 10' range around the character? That's 2 seconds. Or is the action only meant to be used in combat to seek for undetected characters etc. If so, how long does Seek take during exploration?

3) I'm playing Age of Ashes right now. In many places it says if the players spend 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes searching a room, they find X (sometimes in combination with perception checks). Would you as a GM tell them these times before they start or just have the PCs decide how much they waste in each room looting?

Any input would be much appreciated.

As a GM, I do the following:

A seek action is an intentional searching by the PC, so if the PC is actively searching they're not seeking.

But when the PC walks into the room I will roll a secret perception check to see if they notice something, of course there has to be something to notice. If there is a file in an ordinary filing cabinet that the PC doesn't know exists (the file, they see the file cabinet) and would have no reason to identify the file cabinet as something they should search there is no perception check that would tell them "look in the cabinet". But if there is a hidden safe in the wall, maybe the notice hinges in the wall or something to that effect with a successful check.

If the PCs are searching thoroughly for something I let them have it, for spending the time. This is actually supported by the new rules in PF2, and has the consequence of time. If the party knows they're looking for something they spend time and find it if it's there.

If the PCs are quickly searching I will roll a perception check for them and tell them how much time has passed. If they meet the DC they find it in the first search increment, and if they continue searching I lower the DC to represent additional effort and time spend looking for something.

Sovereign Court

Seek vs. Searching
Searching is an exploration tactic. Those are a subset of all the activities with the exploration trait. Specifically, they describe what you're doing while you're moving. So if you're using Searching as your tactic, you're examining everything before you step into it. By using the Seek action.

Searching the room for X time, or an Y Perception check
I think here the idea is that if you're just passing through the room Searching, there's a chance that you'll find the hidden thing. To see if that chance event happens, you roll Perception. But if you take long enough searching, you'll find it for sure, so no Perception roll is required.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

In our age of ashes game in book one (the only book so far that says something about time needed to search) when the party says they are searching the room I told them the amount of time it would need to thoroughly search that room.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:

Seek vs. Searching

Searching is an exploration tactic. Those are a subset of all the activities with the exploration trait. Specifically, they describe what you're doing while you're moving. So if you're using Searching as your tactic, you're examining everything before you step into it. By using the Seek action.

Searching the room for X time, or an Y Perception check
I think here the idea is that if you're just passing through the room Searching, there's a chance that you'll find the hidden thing. To see if that chance event happens, you roll Perception. But if you take long enough searching, you'll find it for sure, so no Perception roll is required.

The age of ashes book 1 says they need to spend the time and succeed at the check. Some rooms have separate times and checks for different treasures.

Sovereign Court

Kennethray wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Seek vs. Searching

Searching is an exploration tactic. Those are a subset of all the activities with the exploration trait. Specifically, they describe what you're doing while you're moving. So if you're using Searching as your tactic, you're examining everything before you step into it. By using the Seek action.

Searching the room for X time, or an Y Perception check
I think here the idea is that if you're just passing through the room Searching, there's a chance that you'll find the hidden thing. To see if that chance event happens, you roll Perception. But if you take long enough searching, you'll find it for sure, so no Perception roll is required.

The age of ashes book 1 says they need to spend the time and succeed at the check. Some rooms have separate times and checks for different treasures.

I'm still playing the book so I haven't read that, but that sounds to me like it might be one of the several "they were still writing the CRB while writing AoA1" things that have come up. I think the Gamemastery Guide gives a more up to date idea on how to run such situations:

GMG p. 18 wrote:

If the group isn’t in any danger and has time for a really

thorough search, that’s a good time to allow them to
automatically succeed, rather than bothering to roll, or
you might have them roll to see how long it takes before
they find what they’re looking for, ultimately finding it
eventually no matter the result. Conversely, if they stop
for a thorough search in the middle of a dungeon, that’s
a good time for their efforts to draw unwanted attention!


Kennethray wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Seek vs. Searching

Searching is an exploration tactic. Those are a subset of all the activities with the exploration trait. Specifically, they describe what you're doing while you're moving. So if you're using Searching as your tactic, you're examining everything before you step into it. By using the Seek action.

Searching the room for X time, or an Y Perception check
I think here the idea is that if you're just passing through the room Searching, there's a chance that you'll find the hidden thing. To see if that chance event happens, you roll Perception. But if you take long enough searching, you'll find it for sure, so no Perception roll is required.

The age of ashes book 1 says they need to spend the time and succeed at the check. Some rooms have separate times and checks for different treasures.

Spoiler:
It's also all completely irrelevant, as the PCs ultimately have all the time in the world to search the citadel, and will inevitably find everything there is to find while cleaning/repairing it.

GMG p. 18 wrote:

If the group isn’t in any danger and has time for a really

thorough search, that’s a good time to allow them to
automatically succeed, rather than bothering to roll, or
you might have them roll to see how long it takes before
they find what they’re looking for, ultimately finding it
eventually no matter the result. Conversely, if they stop
for a thorough search in the middle of a dungeon, that’s
a good time for their efforts to draw unwanted attention!

A blast to the past right here! Though back then you had random encounter tables, too (And rules for how they show up/react). PF2 seems to have moved away from that.

Sovereign Court

I think the lesson in there is more "don't require a roll if the players can retry indefinitely", more than "punish the players if they don't scurry as fast as you like" :P


Hmm, I think it's both.

Give players the thing if they're looking long and hard, but if they're stopping in the middle of a dangerous situation it's a good time to harass them with another encounter.

New player guidelines: Never try to sleep in the dungeon.

The Exchange

Michael Sayre wrote:
Flambe wrote:

2)Seek is used in combat, in exploration mode it is the search activity.

Though it might be relevant to remember that all the Search activity does is generate Seek checks, so any benefits they have to Seek will all still apply while they Search.

I appreciate this is a little necromantic but.... I am still seeking clarification on how a Searching PC interacts with an ambush. If it is answered elsewhere please point me to it!

Eg 4 baddies seek to ambush our heroes. They lie in wait hidden in the forest undergrowth. Each rolls their stealth plus 2. For the sake of this they all beat the party’s relevant skill DC usually perception. So that means they are unnoticed and undetected until they break cover. What though about the PC who was generating the Seek checks while in Search exploration mode?

As standard if the ambushers beat the PCs’ perception DC, losing initiative doesn’t impact their state of awareness. Equally taking a seek action that beats a stealth DC reduces the awareness state. As I understand it a Searching character gets a Perception roll to spot a hazard, proficiency level permitting.

If Searching let’s a character start any ambush Encounter with a free Seek action that reduces the ambushers to hidden that is pretty powerful.

If it doesn’t what does it do?

W


I was about to say I think you more or less have the right of it, but I checked the wording of the activities again and noticed something interesting. While the Seek action specifies both creatures and objects, further dividing objects into secret doors, hidden treasure, and hazards, the Search activity seems to limit its descriptions purely to hidden objects (specifying 'hidden doors, concealed hazards, and so on') and makes no indication that it applies equally to hidden creatures other than a stretch of the imagination regarding that 'and so on'.

This is interesting because I was just considering that issue--an ambush encounter against Searching party members resulting in two checks being rolled to determine stealth. In hindsight I think the intent is that the Initiative check is meant to be the party's "How aware are you" check regarding the start of combat, but instead of Seeking or becoming aware of hidden opponents you are rewarded for a high result by the chance to act first (including the ability to take a Seek to notice hidden foes before they act)

The Exchange

Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:

I was about to say I think you more or less have the right of it, but I checked the wording of the activities again and noticed something interesting. While the Seek action specifies both creatures and objects, further dividing objects into secret doors, hidden treasure, and hazards, the Search activity seems to limit its descriptions purely to hidden objects (specifying 'hidden doors, concealed hazards, and so on') and makes no indication that it applies equally to hidden creatures other than a stretch of the imagination regarding that 'and so on'.

This is interesting because I was just considering that issue--an ambush encounter against Searching party members resulting in two checks being rolled to determine stealth. In hindsight I think the intent is that the Initiative check is meant to be the party's "How aware are you" check regarding the start of combat, but instead of Seeking or becoming aware of hidden opponents you are rewarded for a high result by the chance to act first (including the ability to take a Seek to notice hidden foes before they act)

I follow your line of argument. If the (Search generated) Seek action that Michael mentions is restricted in effect to hidden objects but not hidden creatures that is a bit odd but that may well be the intention. It means that the only thing you can do when heading into an area you think is suspect is to get a plus one from Scouting or perhaps hope using Detect Magic as a sonar pulse and hope the ambushers have a talisman or a potion.

This needs a clarification though. It seems counter intuitive that the party spot the log trap or spike pit dug in the forest trail but not the half dozen ambushers.

Pretty please powers that be :-)


Seek is also fairly limited in scope. If you're using the Search activity, you are likely using the 10 ft adjacent square version of Seek (which is why your speed is limited – even if moving half speed would be faster than 150 ft/minute, you don't because if you do you don't guarantee a Perception check before walking into it). So if the ambushers trigger the ambush at a longer distance, Search doesn't help.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah Searching does seem to be focused on your immediate surroundings. Spotting an enemy in hiding up ahead is much more the territory of the Scout activity, which really should have been named "look-out" or something as that's a much better representation of what it actually does.


heretic wrote:

This needs a clarification though. It seems counter intuitive that the party spot the log trap or spike pit dug in the forest trail but not the half dozen ambushers.

How I make sense of it, for the most part there are no such thing as contested rolls in 2e, so for the majority of actions there is only going to be one die rolled, usually by the active party (the main exception I can think of is spells or attacks that also involve a saving throw). You can Search to generate Seek actions for traps, doors, and treasure, because typically those things have a flat difficulty for noticing them, where if you don't notice an ambush waiting for you, it's because your foes all already rolled successful Sneak checks (or alternatively you roll low to notice the traps and the monster roll low to hide, reversing the scenario). The traps and treasure otherwise are either hidden or not hidden by default, and don't need to roll to avoid notice like creatures do. The only scenario off the top of my head where this may seem not to hold true is complex traps, since you do roll to spot them before they roll initiative, but generally they only get to roll initiative in the first place if they are triggered, so it still works out as described.

It may seem strange that Searching doesn't mean you automatically use every function of Seek, but if you consider each function of Seek as two distinct actions, one for objects and one for creatures, it makes sense that Search would default to only one of these two varieties. That aside, if you consider that by default any creature that would start a fight hidden must already have either beaten or failed against your Perception, it begins to makes sense why there isn't a version of Search for creatures other than Scout's +1 to initiative, which factors out much the same when it comes to the benefits of high initiative--such as potentially rolling high enough to act before the ambush is even sprung!

That's not to say there's no need for clarification--I hadn't even noticed that Search didn't apply to creatures until I was setting up an ambush encounter with a note for the monster's Stealth DCs and then realized that actually they should be rolling and I should be making a note of the party's Perception DCs instead or else anyone who rolls high enough to notice one automatically notices all (of the same kind).

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