Perception (Wis)

Your senses allow you to notice fine details and alert you to danger. Perception covers all five senses, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.


Perception has a number of uses, the most common of which is an opposed check versus an opponent’s Stealth check to avoid being surprised. If you are successful, you notice the opponent and can react accordingly. If you fail, your opponent can take a variety of actions, including sneaking past you and attacking you.

Perception is also used to notice fine details in the environment. For this purpose, the skill is broken down into the five senses, as noted below.
Sight: You can spot enemies far away or notice the small details that indicate the location of a trap, secret door, or hidden panel. The following table outlines the DC of these checks. Note that you automatically fail any Perception skill check made against a target that you cannot see due to insufficient lighting.

Sight Perception DC
A hidden creature Opposed by Stealth
A visible creature 0
A trap Varies by trap
A concealed door 15+
A hidden compartment 15+
A secret door 20+
Sight Modifiers1 DC Modifier
Distance in sunlight +1/100 feet
Distance in torchlight +1/10 feet
Distance in moonlight +1/5 feet
Distance in candlelight +1/1 foot
1 These modifiers only apply to spotting creatures. Hidden objects cannot be spotted by creatures that cannot closely examine the area, generally at a distance no greater than 20 feet.

Sound: You can hear the footfalls of approaching monsters, the rumble of a distant dragon, or the cries for help in a burning building. The following table outlines the DC of these checks. If you beat the DC by 10 or more, you can make out fine details about the sound (and can hear the words being spoken, if any).

Sound Perception DC
A creature moving silently Opposed by Stealth
A battle –10
People talking 0
An armored creature walking 5
An unarmored creature walking 10
People whispering 15
A key being turned in a lock 20
A bow being drawn back to fire 25
Sound Modifiers DC Modifier
Distance +1/10 feet
Through a door +5
Through a wall +10/foot of thickness
Cavernous space +5
A louder noise is present +5
Listener asleep +10
Pinpoint an invisible foe through sound +20

Smell: You can pick up fine odors in the air, allowing you to smell nearby creatures, inhaled poisons, and nearby odiferous hazards. The following table outlines the DCs of these checks. Unlike the ability to hear or see an approaching enemy, smell cannot be used to notice hidden foes unless the scent is present for more than a 10 minutes.

Smell Perception DC
Rotting garbage –10
An ogre’s den –5
Smoke or an ogre 0
Perfume or an orc 5
Fresh air or a dwarf 10
Sweat or a human 15
Blood or an elf 20
Inhaled poison Poison’s DC
Smell Modifiers DC Modifier
Time since the source of the smell was present +1/minute
Through a door +5
Breeze +5
A stronger odor nearby +5
Cold environment +5
Wind +10
Pinpoint an invisible foe through smell +20
Particularly strong –5

Taste: You can taste when food has spoiled, is poisoned, or is diseased. You can also use your sense of taste to identify the properties of common potions. The following table outlines the DCs of these checks. Note that when you intentionally attempt to taste for poison or spoiled food, if you fail the check by 5 or more, you suffer the effects of the poison or spoiled food and must save accordingly. You do not get to make this check automatically when you ingest poison or diseased food unless the DC of the check is less than 20.

Taste Perception DC
Spoiled food 5
Ingested poison Poison’s DC
Potion 15 + caster level
Taste Modifiers DC Modifier
Taste is intentionally obscured +10
Uncommon Potion (GM’s discretion) +5
Rare Potion (GM’s discretion) +10

Touch: You can feel for breezes indicating the route to open air as well as the gentle tremors made by burrowing creatures and marching armies. The following table outlines the DC of these checks.

Touch Perception DC
Notice a pickpocket Opposed by Sleight of Hand
Air movement 20
Burrowing creature 25
Creatures or armies on the move 30
Touch Modifiers DC Modifier
Distance to burrower +1/10 feet
Distance to large creatures or armies +1/100 feet
Size of moving creature Size modifier
Number of moving creatures –1/10 creatures


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

Try Again

Yes. You can try to sense something you missed the first time, so long as the stimulus is still present.


An elf or half-elf has a +2 bonus on hearing- and sight-based Perception checks. A half ling has a +2 bonus on hearing- and taste-based Perception checks. A gnome has a +2 bonus on smell- and touch-based perception checks. A dwarf has a +2 bonus on taste- and touch-based Perception checks.

Creatures with the scent special quality have a +8 bonus on smell-based Perception checks.

Creatures with the tremorsense special quality have a +8 bonus on touch-based Perception checks and automatically make any such checks within their range.

A spellcaster with a hawk or owl familiar gains a +3 bonus on sight-based Perception checks. A spellcaster with a bat familiar gains a +3 bonus on sound-based
Perception checks.