Spot & Listen in 3e

We’ve been playing D&D 3e again recently, and here’s a tiny tip I don’t think I’ve mentioned before.

Instead of a single perception roll, D&D 3e had separate Spot and Listen checks, along with separate Move Silently and Hide skills. Which was kind of rubbish, because often it was really both happening at once. And if you roll once for each, you’re actually doubling the chance of failure (because two successes doesn’t help you, but one failure means you get caught). Or the GM was picking one randomly — yelling “make a Spot check!” as the goblins creep up on you — even though maybe you were better at Listen and it would work just as well.

Having a single Perception and Stealth stat is obviously better, but here’s a fix you can use in 3e without rewriting the rules: roll once and apply it to both tests.

You’re sneaking past the ogre, and you don’t want it to see or hear you of course. You roll a 9. You have +4 Hide and +6 Move Silently, so your Hide was 13 and your Move Silently was 15. Then the ogre rolls once, and applies their Spot and Listen to see if you are about to get a club to the face.

If only one applies, like you’re listening for something coming up behind you or trying to spot something sitting still in a bush, yep, still roll one die, but only use the one skill. Easy peasy.

You could probably take a similar approach when you’re doing a some mix of Bluff, Diplomacy, and/or Intimidate (which are also split up way more than necessary), but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    Ben Robbins | December 22nd, 2021 | | leave a comment