Investigation, Insight, and Perception

Passive Checks

A passive check is a Special kind of ability check that doesn’t involve any die rolls. Such a check can represent the average result for a task done repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over and over again, or can be used when the GM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster.

Here’s how to determine a character’s total for a passive check:
10 + all modifiers that normally apply to the check

If the character has advantage on the check, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5. The game refers to a passive check total as a score.


When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check.

Passive Investigation

Someone with a fairly high Passive Investigation would be able to notice anything not actively being hidden or inside a bag. An example would be knowing approximately what someones armour class is by the armour they’re wearing, their preferred weapon, if they’re a spellcaster and what some of their preferred spells would be if there’s a lingering effect or material components. 


Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides whether you can determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone’s next move. Doing so involves gleaning clues from body language, speech habits, and changes in mannerisms.


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Passive Insight

Someone with a high passive insight would know when most people are lying or hiding something. You could glean where something is hidden from someone who knows about the hidden object also in the room as they unconsciously check its location or consciously avoid looking somewhere. During combat, you’d know where opponents would likely try to move. 


Your Wisdom (Perception) check lets you spot, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of something. It measures your general awareness of your surroundings and the keenness of your Senses. For example, you might try to hear a conversation through a closed door, eavesdrop under an open window, or hear Monsters moving stealthily in the forest. Or you might try to spot things that are obscured or easy to miss, whether they are orcs lying in ambush on a road, thugs Hiding in the shadows of an alley, or candlelight under a closed secret door.

Passive Perception

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Someone with a high passive perception could figure out there are hidden items or people in a space. Detecting the hidden by sound, movement within the environment, scent, airflow, all kinds of reasons. You could also pickup on conversations in a crowd, keying in on specific references of interest. You’d know approximately where invisible creatures would be, but would still have disadvantage on attacks (unless they have a good passive stealth or rolled for stealth).

Feat: Observant

Quick to notice details of your environment, you gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Intelligence or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • If you can see a creature’s mouth while it is speaking a language you understand, you can interpret what it’s saying by reading its lips.
  • You have a +5 bonus to your passive Perception and Investigation scores.

The Observant feat should give the person advantage on Intelligence (Investigation), and Wisdom (Insight & Perception) checks, which translates to adding +5 to passive. It would make this feat far more useful, and just eliminate the ability to lip-read, as it would be part of an active check for anyone, as the person with this feat could likely be able to pass with their passive ability now.

Suggested Change to: Observant

Quick to notice details of your environment, you gain the following benefits: 

  • Increase your Intelligence or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Advantage on Intelligence (Investigation), Wisdom (Insight), and Wisdom (Perception) checks.


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1 Response

  1. 2019-01-22

    […] This also works into characters Investigation, Insight, and Perception! […]

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