Perception

Key Attribute: Wisdom

Perception is both an active and a passive skill. It is used continuously in a passive state to determine what events characters are simply aware of, from whispered conversations to bursts of light to scents drifting on the breeze. It can also be used actively to learn more about an event or detect a forgery. Those who put effort into sharpening their senses can even pierce illusions or detect magical transformations in others, sometimes automatically.

All conscious characters are considered to be taking 0 on their perception checks, all of the time, and this does not require an action. They may not be actively paying attention to a particular thing, but they don’t ignore everything either. This is true whether they are walking down the street, chatting with a friend, or even sleeping. This change allows us to do away with reactive perception checks and instead make it an active choice to attempt to pay more attention to their surroundings, as a character no longer needs to spend an action or make a check to detect or notice something that they could not fail a check to notice.

This means that anytime a character is not distracted and is exposed to an event with a DC no greater than their perception ranks +5 they are at least aware of it. If the event has a notice DC no greater than their perception ranks, they detect it clearly. And if the event has a DC than their ranks in perception -5, they know details about it because they can make them out. Being distracted just means that the characters have one step less information. This is simply the effects of the Notice ability applied to taking 0 on a roll.

Untrained Ability

Notice
You have eyes, ears, and various other sense organs that allow you to notice things going on in your world. While you are always assumed to be paying some attention to the world, and thus taking 0 with the ability, actually making a check with this ability implies that you are focusing on your senses to better understand something in your surroundings. This ability is constantly in use as a free action, in which you "Take 0" on your roll. This allows you to perceive quite a lot of things, and interact with the world in a normal way as a result. If you get a bonus to a particular sense, then that bonus applies to this ability whenever that sense would help you notice the event.

Sometimes you will want to perceive a particular thing more clearly, like a figure on a distant hill outlined by a campfire or the sound of commotion from a street over. At these times you may spend make a perception check as a standard action. The DC to notice or detect something is 15, plus modifiers.

A notice check uses all of your relevant senses. You do not roll multiple times in a round for multiple senses, and you may not roll multiple times even if you attempt to spend multiple actions on the checks.

Special: Some creatures have enhanced senses, like tremorsense, blindsense, blindsight, and scent. Blindsense, blindsight are resolved as if they were sight, but they ignore cover and concealment. They can not penetrate sealed enclosures, however. Tremorsense is resolved as if it was sight, and it ignores cover, concealment, and even walls and floors. It can not detect anything that is not in contact with the same surface as the creature, however, nor can it detect stationary or unattended inanimate objects. These senses are only able to determine the shape, size, and structure of a thing, and not its color or color variations. It should go without saying that they are useless for reading. Scent is resolved as if it were smell, with double the base range and range increments. Additionally, any check that meets or exceeds the DC allows the creature with scent to determine the exact location of the source.

These senses are checked whenever a notice check is made, and generally reveal more than the normal senses would because they suffer less interference or offer greater fidelity. As a result, passive notice checks are likely to provide the exact location of a creature or object within range regardless of interfering conditions. There are some creatures and objects that show poorly against one or more of these special senses, however. Passive notice checks are unlikely to reveal these targets, and actual checks may be necessary. The results for these abilities are listed in the check results below, as a special entry.

Base DC: 15+ 1 for every 10 feet of distance between you and the target.

Success: You notice the thing in question, and are rather clear about what it is. If you exceed the Dc by 5, you notice the event very clearly, and can make out fine details about it that others might have difficulty with.

Failure: You noticed… something. You’re not sure of any details, but there was definitely something there. You know the general direction it came from, and if it’s still there next round you may be able to find out more with another check. If you fail the check by more than 5, you didn’t notice a thing.

Rank 1 Ability

Stand Guard
As a standard action, you may "take 10" instead of 0 on your passive perception checks. If you wish to perceive something more clearly, you must make the check as normal and "take 0" with your passive perception checks for the round instead.

Rank 2 Ability

Uncover Secrets
People hide secret doors, caches, triggers, traps, and similar bits all over the place. If you want to use, loot, or avoid them you have to be able to find them first, and you have a knack for locating them. Searching a 5' by 5' section of the floor, wall, ceiling, or the surface of an object for these hidden things requires 1 round. Searching a compartment of an object for secrets requires 1 standard action if it is smaller than 1' cube, and a 1 round action if it is as large as a 2' cube. The DC to find a secret door, a hidden cache, a trap trigger or effect, or an obscured sign or object is determined by their construction or conditions. Finding a trap does not grant you any special ability to disable it, though you can plug holes, wedge blocks, trigger it from a distance, or perform other sorts of really crude sabotage if you'd rather not just avoid it entirely.

Note: This ability does not help you find things that have not been deliberately hidden in or on a physical object. It is not used to determine if you find the treasure hidden in the rubble, the gems in the pants in the corner of the room, or the sheet of condemning evidence in the stack as those simply require adequate time to look through. Any published references to using search in this fashion should be instead treated as allowing characters to find the indicated items if they spend 2 rounds searching for every 5 points of the DC.

Base DC: Determined by hidden object or trap

Success: You find the hidden cache or trigger in the space. You gain no insight into how it is connected to anything else. If there is nothing hidden there, you recognize that instead. If you exceed the Dc by 5, you find any hidden caches or triggers in the space, as well as the general direction to other local connected devices. If you discovered a hidden catch, for example, you would know the direction to the release if it was not in the same space. If there is nothing hidden there, you recognize that instead.

Failure: You do not uncover any secrets within the space, even if there are some. If you fail the check by more than 5 points, if there is something in the space, you believe that it is empty. If there is nothing in it, you believe that there is something in the space connected to a trigger elsewhere. You can only get this result if you spend an action to uncover secrets, not if you are simply taking 0. Sometimes if you look too hard at things you see what you want to.

Rank 4 Ability

Investigate
It now allows you to investigate objects in order to find clues. Each clue represents a specific piece of potential information. Some clues yield their information automatically, but others must be analyzed, which involves making another skill check in a specific skill (often a Knowledge or Craft skill). Clues normally hold information that you cannot uncover without investigating.

Each clue represents a specific piece of information that you can potentially get. When a clue needs analysis, you automatically know which skill you need to analyze it, and what information can be found from it. Sometimes, you’ll have a list of skills to choose from. You don’t have to analyze the clues you find yourself. Instead, you can have other experts analyze them (and make the skill check) for you; usually, these would be other members of your party.

Clues don’t have to be physical objects. They can be more like riddles that need solving. For example, you might notice that a slain creature is lying in a strange posture, or that the burn marks on a wall are reminiscent of a spell. This means that you can’t really carry clues around. You have to interpret them on the spot.

It’s more difficult to find clues that reveal intricate information. The following table illustrates general Perception check DCs for uncovering clues that provide different levels of information. The examples provided are things you can discover by investigating the remains of a creature, although you can investigate other things as well.

DC Clue Type Example of Potential Information
5 Trivial Race, type, subtype of a deceased creature
10 Basic Vague time of death
15 Complex Vague cause of death
20 Specific Specific cause of death, more accurate time of death
25 Detailed Information about the killer

When you investigate an object, you automatically find all possible clues, based on their DC and the result of your check. You don’t need to make separate checks to find different clues.

The DC to analyze a clue is the same DC as finding it was. Analyzing a clue requires a skill check appropriate to the nature of the clue. If you are investigating a dead body, for example, clues could require a Heal check.

Some circumstances cause penalties and bonuses on your Perception check to analyze clues.

Description Modifier Example
Mild contamination -5 Several parts are missing; object has been fixed or broken
Moderate contamination -10 Skeleton only; object has been renovated
Severe contamination -15 Most of the original is gone
Total contamination -20 Little of the original remains
Familiarity +2 You’re familiar with the object you’re investigating
Extra evidence +4 You have many items belonging to the deceased
Verification +8 You already know the facts about an object; you just need to verify them with evidence

Base DC: None. The result of the skill check determines the potential information you uncover, and a separate skill check analyzes the clues you find.

Rank 5 Ability

Ear to the Ground
As a full-round action, you can bend down and put your ear to the ground to feel for vibration. On a successful skill check, you gain tremorsense with a range based on your check result. On top of solid stone, the range is 5 feet for every 5 points of your check result. On loose stone or cobble, the range is 10 feet per 5 points. On hard-packed earth, the range is 15 feet per 5 points.

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