Perception is basically the DM saying “given the individual character’s skills and history, or perhaps just the situation, there’s something that’s out of place that warrants a Perception check”. A positive Perception check is going to give you a feeling that something is wrong or out of place, with the feeling being more specific depending on how well you succeed. Even with a very good roll, however, it’s still going to be a fairly vague response (example below), most likely a “gut feeling.” Perception is an ability, not a skill, although certain classes may have a bonus and everyone gets a +1 for every 3 completed levels.
Initial Perception is based on (INT+WIS+CHR/3)-3. The article I have mostly borrowed this concept from can be found here, although it’s been modified slightly.
: This will be a DM-rolled check, as telling you to make a Perception check can’t help but bias your actions – even the best role-players are going to be hard-pressed to ignore what they know.
Observation is an active skill (meaning the player has to indicate they want to make an Observation check), whereas a Perception check is more likely than not something I’m going to instigate. Observation will give you a much clearer sense of what’s out of place. Actively Observing after making a Perception check is perfectly acceptable, although I’m going to ask you for a bit of guidance about what you’re observing. Observation is a skill that needs to be bought :
A character is speaking with a farmer inside his house regarding a bandit attack on a caravan that took place the night before at a local ford. The conversation seems fairly normal (the farmer may be a bit defensive if the character’s tone is accusatory, of he may be a bit annoyed that he’s being kept away from his chores if it goes on for a while, but nothing obviously strange).
The DM rolls a Perception check and determines that the character feels that the farmer isn’t being completely truthful, but can’t really pinpoint more than that.
A successful Observation check directed at the farmer(say his body language) would tell the character that the farmer seems nervous and anxious for the interview to be over, or that he’s standing unusually close for a conversation, or that he is occasionally glancing backwards.
A successful Observation check regarding the surroundings (the stuff in the house) would result in my mentioning that there is a pair of boots stained with reddish mud beside the door or that there are four place settings on the table.
None of those clues, by themselves, mean much. But if the PC were a ranger who asked if the red mud was not normally found around this area, they’d remember that the soil here about is pretty good, dark soil, and see that mud is kind of clay-like. And if they’ve been to the ambush site, they’d know that that river that the ambush took place at is known for the red clay on its banks. A PC with a successful Obscure Knowledge check who thought to ask why the boots stood out would remember that this little town they were near was renowned for its clay pots which had a distinct, deep red tone as a result of the iron ore deposits that were washed downstream from the nearby hills.
The other clues are ones that the player would have to either figure out for themselves or ask more questions about. The truth of the matter is that one of the bandits is in the other room with the farmer’s wife and daughter. The bandit also happens to be the wife’s younger brother (which would be why he took off said boots!). The place settings might have been too obvious a clue, but if the conversation came up about who lived there, that might be important. The farmer was standing too close because he didn’t want the character to get any further into the house or start walking around or something. Ideally, with Observation the player would be given a much richer description and let them pick out the details. But given that it’s a skill, and given that I don’t put the level of detail into each encounter that I could describe everything about the house, I think a hint or two of things that stand out is the best course of action. Keep in mind there might very well be legitimate explanations for things – if a cop pulls you over because he thought it looked like you were shaving and driving, but you were really using one of those little tape recorders, that’s the sort of “honest” mistake one might get out of Observation.
This is one of the things from 3.0/3.5/4ed(don’t know which one) that I really like and will be using – the idea being that you dedicate a significant amount of time and effort toward a particular activity in order to increase your skill roll. The actual bonus you get may vary based on your skill level and the circumstances(someone with a tumbling skill of 3 shouldn’t be able to complete the same complex maneuvers as a world-class gymnast just because they spent a few extra minutes preparing for it). But it will be applicable to situations where it would logically apply.
Rather than being permanently dead at -10, PCs can survive until negative hit points equal to their Constitution score. (Health sub-ability if there is a difference between the sub-ability scores) Characters must roll a successful System Shock check once they reach -1 and anytime they are subsequently injured, but if they make the check they can continue fighting. : This may be limited to characters with Iron Will in the future, we’ll see. For now, it’s all PCs.
Rather than needing to put CPs into skills for future use, I’ll use a modified version of the Chaosium system. Basically, you need to keep track of any skills you successfully use during the course of an adventure, and once the adventure is over, you get to roll to improve that skill (once per skill, regardless of how many times you successfully used it). You need to get above your current skill level, and if you do so, your skill improves by 1 (up to 19). So the more skilled you are, the harder it is to get the increase. We’ll still use the “If you roll a 1 on a skill check your skill goes up by 1” rule. We’ll see how this works and if you guys end up maxing out your skills after a couple of adventures, I may have to revise this.
There’s a complete list of Non-Weapon Proficiencies/Skills that I’m compiling which can be found at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RTyTN5y75A4yvv4KXZC2oBAJSmAN-X6ujtKADoGYxfA/edit?usp=sharing. If there’s a skill you want your character that isn’t on the list, talk to me. It might be covered under another skill or we can add it as appropriate.
Skills will have an ability score and an Initial Rating listed next to them which represents the number you have to roll equal to or less on a d20 to be successful. The ability score listed can give a bonus to your skill Rating if you’re above average or a penalty if you’re below average, as follows:
|9-10||No bonus or penalty|