Listen/Spot Checks


Combining skill checks isn’t the only way to hack hack D&D’s skills. You can also split skills out into separate parts! Back in 3rd Edition, D&D used to have separate “listen” checks and “spot” checks.

This coalesced into one perception roll in 5th Edition.

Perception (5e)

Something Gained

Why would they do this? There’s a great reason, actually! When you make a player roll twice to accomplish the same task, they’re less likely to succeed. Effectively, you’re giving the player what we now know as “disadvantage.”

When 3e players had to make both a “move silently” check (to not be heard) and a “hide” check (to not be seen), we were basically making them roll with disadvantage (and split their skill points among different skills, but that’s another story).

Something Lost

What did we lose? When we dispense with granularity, we sacrifice mechanical opportunities to modulate the narrative. What’s the difference between…

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