[RPG] How to resolve “requires DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check”


Background: I will be DM of an upcoming gaming session. I and the players are all new to D&D or roleplaying. This will be our first session (and unfortunately there are no other gaming groups in our area that we can join).

For running this first gaming session, since we are all noobs, I thought of using a one-shot adventure – for which I selected "A Most Potent Brew" from Winghorn Press. I am trying to read up on the rules and at least get a basic handle to run the session.

One of the things generally mentioned in these adventures goes something along the lines of

Spotting the rats before then requires a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception)
check from adventurers in the room.

I understand DC 10 is the difficulty class that the players will have to roll the dice and beat. (DC 10 being 'Easy' as per the table 'Typical Difficulty Classes' given in Player Handbook).

However, what does the Wisdom (Perception) mean?

Once they roll a d20, should they be adding Perception skill modifier? What is the significance of Wisdom?

Best Answer

How the Ability Check works

When you look in the PHB in Chapter 7 (sub heading Skills) covering ability checks, you will find that Perception is one of five skills that use Wisdom for Ability Score modifiers.

Wisdom: Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Survival

Ability Score modifiers are in the table in the beginning of Chapter 7.

For a first level character, the proficiency bonus is +2, from Chapter 1, Character Advancement Table (In the Tiers of Play paragraph).

If your character has a skill proficiency in Perception, add the Proficiency bonus. If your character has a Wisdom ability score bonus, add that regardless of whether the character is proficient or not.

Two cases: with Perception chosen as a skill choice, and without it

  1. Nelda the Cleric has a Wisdom of 16 and chose the Perception skill during character creation. This means that she has proficiency in Perception, so she applies the proficiency bonus as well. Nelda will add +3 +2 (+5) to the d20 roll: +3 for the ability score bonus (16 Wisdom) and +2 for proficiency in the Perception skill. When she reaches level 5, her proficiency bonus will increase by one to +3
  2. Ted the Wizard has a 12 Wisdom, but did not choose Perception as a skill during character creation. He adds +1 to the d20 roll for the Perception check, since he does not get the proficiency bonus for that skill.
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