What's the difference between Search and Spot?

You make Intelligence check when actively searching for hidden things and you make wisdom checks to passively spot hidden things.

The are lots of different interpretations.


The simplest way to rule it is spot is for creatures, search is for objects.


Another way to rule it is that spot is for things you notice out of the corner of your eye, and search is for stuff where you have to study carefully one particular object or location.


In the past, when Wisdom was exclusively used for Spot and Intelligence for search it made things a little easier to imagine. You need to be a brilliant detective to search for things well, you need to be attuned to the patterns of nature to spot things well. Now that you could theoretically do a spot check with intelligence or a search check with wisdom in D&D Next, your DM can be a little bit more flexible with unusual situations. If there is ever doubt, next to each skill is a suggested attribute to use for skill checks.

So the best is to talk it over and come up with a meaning with your group before you start playing so people don't complain mid-way. 

You make Intelligence check when actively searching for hidden things and you make wisdom checks to passively spot hidden things.



Thank you.  I found it in the rules in the end (doh - couldn't see for looking).

I confess this is more an emotional reaction than anything else, but I don't like the split mechanic.  If nothing else I suspect that I'll just forget which is which, and also with the full description from the rule set I suspect canny players will manipulate how they describe their actions to either leverage their Wis or Int, depending on which is higher.

Still, I'm DMing a playtest PbP with old 1e and 2e friends at the moment, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Yeah I hope they merge listen, search, and spot back into just one perception skill before the final product hits the shelves. It just takes to much time and causes confusion about what to roll

In the last game I was in the rogue was making those three skill checks constantly in every situation it slowed the game down, especially the fact that there is no passive perception yet so he was actually making rolls every 20' or so during a dungeon crawl.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

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I've only played 4e for a few weeks, but Passive Perception was a good thing there - a real innovation vs. other RPGs I've played.  I agree it's current omission is an error.  Maybe that will come back into the Core Rules later in playtest, or perhaps it will be an optional add in.
Yeah I hope they merge listen, search, and spot back into just one perception skill before the final product hits the shelves. It just takes to much time and causes confusion about what to roll In the last game I was in the rogue was making those three skill checks constantly in every situation it slowed the game down, especially the fact that there is no passive perception yet so he was actually making rolls every 20' or so during a dungeon crawl.



Well that could be handled by the DM pretty easy...

The Thief says..."I'm moving slowly and carefully down this hallway looking for any sign of traps or hidden doors, I'll listen at any door I pass before moving on...".

The DM rolls 'Search' since the Thief has announced that he's actively LOOKING for these things. Notes the result. 
The DM also rolls a die for 'Spot' if the DM knows that there's something that the Thief DIDN'T say he was looking for down the hallway - Like the giant spider clinging to the ceiling and to cover the listening at doors.

When and if the player character reaches any of the triggers, then the die roll is applied and compared to the DC of the trap or hidden door or whatever.
It works a little better than having the DM do the die roll when the Thief reaches the spot where the pit trap in the floor lies... since the players may notice that the DM is rolling a die and assume there's something to look out for at that particular place.

        

Oh I agree this could easily be handled by the DM. Indeed it has to be in many game systems. I just love the passive skill because there are no dice rolls and the DM can have all the player passive skills on a slip of paper, so the whole thing retains a sense of pace
Since "search" is "active", the player must say that he/she is actively searching for it.

"Spot" should be rolled when the DM says that it should be rolled, meaning when there is something there for them to spot. Either the DM rolls or tell the player to roll. If your players metagame (do a search check whenever you call a spot) then you should also randomly call for spot checks. Or, just roll for them.
@egamma - with that interpretation I would make spot passive, and never roll it.
I really hope they get rid of the search/spot, active/passive perception divide. It's not only confusing to alot of people, it's nonsensical. One and only one ability score (Wisdom) should be used for perception, whether you're actively looking or not, IMO.
Yeah I hope they merge listen, search, and spot back into just one perception skill before the final product hits the shelves. It just takes to much time and causes confusion about what to roll In the last game I was in the rogue was making those three skill checks constantly in every situation it slowed the game down, especially the fact that there is no passive perception yet so he was actually making rolls every 20' or so during a dungeon crawl.



Well that could be handled by the DM pretty easy...

The Thief says..."I'm moving slowly and carefully down this hallway looking for any sign of traps or hidden doors, I'll listen at any door I pass before moving on...".

The DM rolls 'Search' since the Thief has announced that he's actively LOOKING for these things. Notes the result. 
The DM also rolls a die for 'Spot' if the DM knows that there's something that the Thief DIDN'T say he was looking for down the hallway - Like the giant spider clinging to the ceiling and to cover the listening at doors.

When and if the player character reaches any of the triggers, then the die roll is applied and compared to the DC of the trap or hidden door or whatever.
It works a little better than having the DM do the die roll when the Thief reaches the spot where the pit trap in the floor lies... since the players may notice that the DM is rolling a die and assume there's something to look out for at that particular place.

        




The only problem with this is that next game the thief says "Unless I say otherwise, I'm moving slowly and carefully ..." which is basically just passive perception.

I see no reason why you should ever roll for anything that happens passively. You don't roll constantly for each breath. You don't roll to digest your food. You don't roll attack rolls against the air as you're walking down a hallway with your sword drawn (or during combat as you move around).

But as soon as you start actively trying to do something (or something notable happens), then you roll. You'd roll a Con check to hold your breath for as long as possible. You'd roll an attack roll to try to whack stuff. You would roll a Con check to swallow a large object that was hidden in your food or a save to digest something out of date without getting sick. So you'd roll a spot check to count the number of birds flying around in a cage or to read a document from far away to stay concealed or something.

I don't really care if they have perception (which would be my preference) or spot and listen. I think what's most important is that they implement a passive/active skill system like 4th edition had.

Side note - I do pretty much all DM rolls hidden from my players. To avoid tipping the players off by a sudden roll, I just roll dice randomly all the time. Described the room to the players? Time to roll. Players give me their marching order? Time to roll. Ate a cracker? Time to roll.

Second Side Note - The Con check to swallow something actually came up in a game I ran. A PC got captured by bandits and they had another PC infiltraded into the bandit group beforehand. Since getting captured wasn't part of the plan, he came up with an escape plan. When a bandit brought his food (a loaf of bread), he said something along the lines of "I eat it quickly then go back to breaking the wall to escape" (he was being held in an old manor and the walls were rotting and weak). Of course, the PC infiltrated into the bandit group had pickpocketed a spare key to the door where the prisoner was being held and managed to press it into the bread before it was delivered. The result being that the prisoner almost chokes on the key because he was eating quickly and when the guard came in, he didn't know what to do so he went to get some water. By which time the prisoner had coughed up the key and escaped.
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