Calculating Passive Perception | How To Calculate Passive Perception 5E

how to calculate passive perception 5E

There are occasions where your GM will ask for your Passive Perception; in fact, on most standard character sheets, there’ll be a little area for you to put your Passive Perception yourself! Passive Perception is what GMs use to see if you naturally spot stealthed creatures or something hidden without your character searching the area. It’s one of the most important DCs for a GM to know, so if you can calculate it yourself, your GM will adore you! Learn how with our How to Calculate Passive Perception 5E Guide.

How to Calculate Passive Perception 5E

Super simple; calculating your Passive Perception is just:

Passive Perception = 10 + Wisdom + Proficiency Bonus (If proficient in Perception) + Any other bonuses to Perception

Or, just:

Passive Perception = 10 + Wisdom (Perception)

Any Other Modifiers?

There are a few ways to boost your Passive Perception. Like every Passive skill rank, if you have Advantage on it, you get a +5. Disadvantage imposes a -5. That means, if you can get Advantage on Perception checks, you actually are at 15 + Wisdom (Perception). Super high DC! Especially if you’re a class like Monk or Cleric who can afford to have high Wisdom. Then, if you can find magical items that affect Perception (like granting advantage), your Passive Perception will be hard to beat.

For this case, remember that most characters that don’t have Darkvision can’t see well in dim light. That means, in most cases, you’ll take a -5 penalty to Passive Perception for things in dim light.

Of course, if you have the Expertise ability, you double the proficiency bonus you add to the Perception check. Anything that affects your modifier for Wisdom (Perception) will boost your Passive, even if it says Skill checks.

Finally, if you’re really wanting to maximize your eyes while walking around, there’s the Observant feat. That feat boosts your Intelligence or Wisdom, lets you understand conversation by reading lips, and adds 5 to your passive Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation). 

Most people wouldn’t consider that too powerful, but if you want to take a feat randomly, it’s far from bad. Use it to get to 20 Wisdom and watch as nobody can sneak by you. With Observant and Advantage on Perception, you push yourself to 20 + Wisdom (Perception). That’s really high!

See Also: How to Determine Saving Throws in 5E

Wrapping Up Passive Perception

Passive Perception is a bit weird, but it’s a great tool to allow GM’s to avoid constantly rolling Perception in the background. Do remember; Passive Perception doesn’t mean that you roll a minimum of 10 on any given Perception check. It’s just what your PC notices randomly when fully cognizant and walking around. If your PC searches a room and rolls a 2, then they probably were just searching the wrong area. You can’t just fall back on Passive Perception then… Unless your GM says otherwise, of course.

Make sure you know your Passive Perception and sense types before you get to campaign. That helps the GM a lot if they plan on hiding things from the PCs. And hey, if you have scent or Darkvision, then your Passive Perception just increased by 5 in most dungeons. You’ll see everything!

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