Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts XIV – Perception Skills

This one took ages for some reason, but here it finally is. Given that the various entries in this series so far are kind of scattered, here’s a complete list:

Perception Skills – Listen, Perception, Search, Sense Motive, Spot, Scent, Touch, and so on – are another primordial group. While there’s room for semantic debate as to whether or not that amoeba flowing towards a greater concentration of food molecules is “really” sensing it’s environment or whether some level of analysis is required to qualify to use the word “sensing” instead of “tropism”, you don’t have to move up the complexity scale very much to hit creatures that definitely do perceive things, even if it’s only a basic stimulus-response reaction. .

On the other hand, perception skills are tricky to define stunts for because – for the most part – perception skills simply make you more likely to notice available information. After all, despite all the “new age” attempts to turn quantum mechanics into mysticism, nothing playable operates on a scale small enough for the observer effect to really mean much of anything. Realistic perception skills literally operate entirely inside your head.

Oh well. Whoever said that d20 was “realistic” by non-magical standards?

Sample Stunts For Perception Skills:

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • The basic uses of Perception skills are pretty well covered in the rules already. They are, after all, one of the most used sets of skills in the game.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Magic Detection: Even warriors channel magic to make themselves tougher than any mortal has a right to be. Given a minute of meditation and a reasonable skill check, almost any experienced adventurer can detect the presence of magic.
    • Observe Style: By taking one or more rounds to observe an opponents fighting style, you may observe how to take advantage of their habits, blind spots, and weaknesses, gaining a pool of up to Skill Check/5 “points”. If you fight said opponent within the next twenty-four hours, you may spend points from that pool to reduce the penalties for Called Shots against that opponent by 5 per point spent (to a minimum of zero).
    • Rapid Recovery: You may throw off the effects of a sensory attack must faster than normal, reducing the duration of an effect that rendered you temporarily blind, deaf, numb, or similar by 3d6 rounds.
  • DC 20:
    • Find Weakness: You may select a target. For the next twenty-four hours you may ignore any Damage Reduction they may possess.
    • Instant Perception: You gain information equivalent to ten minutes worth of carefully scanning an area, listening to ambient sounds, savoring tastes, smelling an area, or feeling for irregularities in a single round.
    • The Subtle Flaw: You may determine whether or not something is an illusion, bypassing any need to save. At DC 35 this extends to anything you turn the affected sense on for up to one minute per level.
  • DC 25:
    • Combat Awareness: The sound of a blade cutting through the air, the pressure wave of it darting towards you, the glint of it in the corner of your eye… Your preternatural awareness of the world about you lets you more readily evade attacks. Gain a +2 (+3 at DC 40, +4 at DC 60, +5 at DC 75, and +6 at DC 100) to your AC and Reflex Saves for the next (Skill Check) rounds as an immediate action.
    • Detect Scrying: For the next twenty-four hours you will automatically become aware of anyone who is remotely spying upon you.
    • Suspected Presence: The character may note the presence of creatures that are normally immune to detection by the sense in use. At DC 50 he or she may pinpoint their location, attacking and/or using other powers without penalty. This is normally good for the duration of the fight.
  • DC 30:
    • Selective Perception: You may decide that you simply don’t perceive something. This can render you immune to gaze weapons, many hypnotic powers, particular illusions, and various sensory attacks. The user might thus resist being Nauseated by a Stinking Cloud, or ignore a Color Spray.
    • Subconscious Awareness: You may activate this ability before going to sleep, so that, rather than suffering a penalty to your perceptions for being asleep, you gain a +10 competence bonus. If the results of such a check call for wakefulness, the user becomes fully alert whenever the player chooses that they do.
    • Trap Spotting: For the next twenty-four hours you not only gain the equivalent of a Find Traps spell effect, but get an automatic roll to detect any trap a few moments before you would trigger it, regardless of whether or not you are currently checking for them.
  • DC 35:
    • Detect Thoughts: You may hear subvocal mutters, see and read muscle tensions, feel changes in a targets heartbeat, and smell changes in their scent. You may read the surface thoughts of any target within thirty feet, may determine their alignment given a minute of observation, and will always know if they are consciously lying or are attempting to manipulate you or anyone else. You will always understand anything they are trying to communicate, whether to you or to someone else. The effect lasts for (Skill Check) rounds and you may take a round to change targets while it lasts.
    • Greater Illusion: Your keen senses make you aware of the flaws in any illusion you may cast, obviating them. Thanks to this incredible realism, your illusions can inflict nonlethal damage, but only up to the point of unconsciousness. Also, a successful save provides complete protection – and even without disbelief the damage is determined by comparison to a similar spell effect of equal or lesser level to the illusion used (and may allow saves for reduced effect if that spell does), and the damage is limited by the targets expectations and experience – so instant effects are rarely very useful and no effects will work on mindless targets or objects.
    • Social Awareness: You may sense the subtle tells of social relationships. You may determine the relationships between any people you can currently observe and between those present and anyone who is mentioned by name within your hearing.
  • DC 40:
    • Echoes Of The Past: The user may extend his or her relevant sense(s) backwards into time, becoming a witness to events that passed long ago. While such echoes gradually fade, the more important the event, the longer they remain. “What was served for dinner” may only echo for a few weeks or months – but the Fall of a God may echo for tens of thousands of years.
    • Enhanced Sense. The user may extend the relevant sense beyond normal limits – seeing into the Infrared or Ultraviolet, or in the dark, or enhancing it with telescopic or microscopic abilities. He or she might analyze or identify things by scent (or use it as a combat sense), use their sense of touch to simulate tremorsense, feel the tumblers in a combination lock dropping into position, or taste a potions composition and identify it’s effects.
    • Scrying Strike: When you become aware of someone using magic to see, hear, or otherwise perceive you, you may launch an effect or even a physical attack back along that connection – attempting to grab the scryer and drag them to you, launching a spell at them, or otherwise interacting with them as if they were truly present.
  • DC 50:
    • Detect Relevance: You can sense whether items apparent to the sense in question are actually of some importance to the current narrative, thus bypassing all red herrings, irrelevant graffiti, and similar distractions to focus only on those items that are actual clues – becoming aware of anything which is actually relevant in a thirty foot radius.
    • Preternatural Senses: Your senses are so keen that you may – albeit with concentration – select a spot within long range and exercise the relevant skill as if you were there, regardless of intervening obstacles. The effect lasts while you concentrate, up to a maximum of (Skill Check) rounds and can – given 1d4+1 rounds to refocus – be retargeted as needed within range.
    • Return Scrying: If you are being remotely monitored you may use the link yourself, to see and hear whoever or whatever is spying upon you as long as the effect lasts.
  • DC 60:
    • Greater Illusion II: A simple Silent Image spell is so empowered by your precise perception of what it represents that it develops partial reality, duplicating the function of any Shadow spell of up to level three.
    • Narrative Perception: You may check to see whether or not up to (Wis Mod +1, 1 Minimum) Vignettes (from Stealing The Scene) will fit into the current scene and activate any one of them that will. https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/skills-of-the-shadowed-galaxy-ii-action-skills/
    • Universal Awareness: You may expand your consciousness, becoming aware of things that are not apparent to your normal senses – magical energies, dimensional overlays, gravitational waves, radiation, vibrations in the earth, disturbances in probability, prophecies, destinies, underground tunnels and structures, alignment energies, mineral deposits, and any other aspect of reality you wish to know of. You may ask the game master seven questions about such things within a range of one mile, gaining reasonably detailed answer.
  • DC 75:
    • Greater Illusion III: A simple Minor Image spell is so empowered by your precise perception of what it represents that it develops partial reality, duplicating the function of any Shadow spell of up to level six.
    • Know The Web: You may perceive, amplify, and use the Mystical Links between people, places, and things – and so may use the rules for Mystic Links (Part I and Part II) in whatever way you can take advantage of them.
    • Sensory Equivalence: As long as the user has at least one operating sense, he or she can operate as if all of them are unhindered – for example, seeing in the dark via hearing or while blinded by his or her sense of smell. He or she can feel sound, hear tastes, and see touch if necessary. This enhanced awareness lasts for a full twenty-four hours once activated. The user may voluntarily block individual senses during this time to avoid sense-based attacks.
  • DC 100:
    • Know The Secrets: You (the player) may inspect the character sheet and game statistics of the creature you can directly sense; the character using this ability will intuitively gain all relevant information.
    • Greater Illusion IV: A simple Major Image spell is so empowered by your precise perception of what it represents that it develops partial reality, duplicating the function of any Shadow spell of up to level nine.
    • Solophistic Perception: By refusing to perceive something you may erase it from your personal reality. You might thus fire arrows freely at those foolish floating people who think they are on the upper floors of a castle that you believe does not exist.

Epic Stunts for Perception Skills:

These basically come in three major varieties:

1) Expanding the user’s sensory abilities more or less permanently. This can be done by stacking a permanent duration and being impossible to simply dispel onto pretty much any sensory spell at a cost of +12 spell levels – +10 if you make it a personal-only effect.

2) Granting the user minor sensory boosts. For this, simply invest the costs of the “research” into sense-related Siddhisyoga powers.

3) Using fairly normal divinatory, sense-boosting, or illusion spells. In this case, just use standard spells with any desired metamagic(s) applied – but there’s nothing wrong with simply developing “True Seeing” as an “Epic” effect.

Outside of that, there are few epic-level perception effects, simply because they’re generally not needed. Conventional spells can give you incredible powers of perception already – just not for as long.

Besides… perception skills are ridiculously useful already.

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