Sense Motive

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Description

Ability Score Used: Wisdom
Usable Untrained? Yes
Armor Check Penalty Applies? No

Sense Motive is the skill of being skeptical, approaching social and life situations with a clear-eyed wariness that makes you hard to take advantage of. You are skilled at detecting both falsehoods and truthful intentions. You are hard to bamboozle or flim-flam, you have your own view of things and are not easily swayed by honeyed words.

A successful check clues you in that something is afoot. It does not allow you to see through disguises or camouflage, it does not let you spot someone who is hiding or sneaking around. It does allow you to spot when someone is trying to pull one over on you, such as selling you a shady bit of gear, or asking you to do something for nefarious purposes. (Yeah, that guy is evil, he's totally evil, just look at him!) This may clue you in that someone nearby may be wearing a disguise, or that someone may have hidden or camouflaged an object, but it will never reveal such a thing directly (actually revealing such things requires a Perception check).

Sense motive is a skill which can compliment a lot of situations, both before and after combat has begun.

Resist Bluff

You can use sense motive to counteract most uses of the Bluff skill. A sense motive check gives you that eerie 'Mom Sense' to determine when something odd is going on, or to assess someone's trustworthiness. It also allows you to tell when someone is lying to you, notice when someone is faking an injury or unconsciousness, ignore diversions, resist blandishments to perform certain actions, and other effects. These rolls are usually opposed checks against the skill being used to try and fool your wary gaze.

Sense Motive will also allow you to realize that two people are 'in cahoots' and passing secret messages. It will not allow you to see how they are actually doing the nefarious deed, or intercept such messages. To do that, you must use Perception.

Action Required:

Free action

DC of Check:

opposed by target's Bluff check.

Modifiers to Check
  • Studied Observation: Instead of a free action, you can spend a few minutes observing a target (or targets) to make a more thorough assessment of their verisimilitude. By doing so, you reduce the DC by -10.
  • Three's a Crowd: You may attempt to use resist bluff against several creatures at once. The DC is based on the highest Bluff result of all creatures observed, +2 per additional creature after the first.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat only), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

Yes (up to 5 allies).

Results of Success

You are able to sense if any of the creatures you are observing are being dishonest about a topic being discussed, or are trying to hide something important from you. This does not expose secrets they're not actively discussing (or nearly discussing). Furthermore, it doesn't reveal the truth to you, only that there is a truth to be had that they aren't sharing.

If the creatures observed aren't lying or trying to hide something, you get the feeling that they are being honest with you.

Consequences of Failure

Whether the creatures are lying or trying to hide something or not, you get the feeling they are being honest with you.

Retry Allowed?

No. You have no reason to believe you are wrong about your assessment of the observed creatures.

Provokes AOO?

No

Resist Feint

The Feint skill use of Bluff is resisted either by your Maneuver Defense or by your sense motive skill + 10, whichever is higher. However, you do not actually make an opposed sense motive check.

Hunch

You can spend a few minutes taking in a scene, and try to get a general sense of the motives and intentions of the people present. You do this by observing body language, facial tics and other tells, though a familiarity with the language being spoken (and being able to hear the conversation) certainly helps.

Using hunch, you might be able to deduce that several of the waitstaff at a dinner are waiting for a signal of some sort before they act. You might observe a knot of people talking quietly in the corner of a party and infer that they intend to sneak off together for some unknown purpose, and don't want anyone to notice.

You can also use hunch to determine that someone isn't who they claim to be (though you probably can't tell who they really are, unless they slip up and reveal a clue). This could indicate that they are in disguise, that they are a doppelganger, or are an impostor of some sort.

While these may sound like things you might notice with Perception, they are less about seeing specific things, than they are about understanding body language and tells, put together with an intuitive understanding of humanoid psychology.

Action Required:

Typically several minutes of observation.

DC of Check:

15 + double the highest CR (or level) of the creatures being observed.

Modifiers to Check
  • Shared Language: If you speak the same language as that being spoken by the creatures being observed, the DC is decreased by -5.
  • Down In It: If you are included in the conversation, or are adjacent to one or more of the creatures being observed, the DC is decreased by -5.
  • Weird Subjects: If the creatures you are observing are particularly alien (such as doppelgangers or fey), the DC is increased by +5.
  • Hasty Hunch: If you wish to rush to a conclusion (and you want it to be right), the DC is increased by +10.
  • Lurker: If you don't wish the observed creatures to know you are watching them, the DC is increased by +5.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10, but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No, hunches are personal, and too nuanced to really work as a collaborative effort.

Results of Success

You are able to deduce the general intentions of the creatures you are observing. This does not reveal any specific information, only generalities.

Consequences of Failure

You can't really tell what the observed creatures are up to. Maybe they're genuinely just discussing the weather.

Retry Allowed?

No. No amount of staring will give you deeper insight into these people. They've got those cold, dead eyes, like a doll's eyes.

Provokes AOO?

No

Sense Compulsion

You can tell that someone's behavior is being controlled, causing them to act with a will other than their own, even if that person isn't aware of it. This covers everything from Charm Person (Spell) to Dominate (Spell), to creature abilities which subvert the will of the subject, either short term or long term.
Action Required:

Standard action

DC of Check:

15 + double the CR of the controller

Modifiers to Check
  • Never Met Him: If you have never interacted with the subject prior to their being influenced, the DC is increased by +5.
  • Acquaintance: If you have spent at least an hour in conversation with them sometime in the past (before they were influenced), the DC is reduced by -2.
  • Friend: If you have spent many days in conversation and camaraderie with them prior to their being influenced, the DC is reduced by -4.
  • Good Friend: If you have spent weeks or months in their company prior to their being influenced, the DC is reduced by -6.
  • Best Friend: If you have spent years in their company prior to their being influenced, the DC is reduced by -8.
  • Like Family: If you have known them your whole life, the DC is reduced by -10.
Take 10? / Take 20?

No

Allows Assists?

No

Results of Success

You get the sense that this person is acting by the will of someone other than themselves (assuming they actually are).

Consequences of Failure

You don't notice anything wrong with the person. Maybe they're just having a bad day.

Retry Allowed?

Yes, but only if the subject does something new which is out of character for them, and might cause you to notice the peculiarity of their behavior.

Provokes AOO?

No

Discern Alignment (Epic Use)

You can use sense motive to identify the alignment of a creature you are observing. This can be done very quickly, since most creatures wear their alignment fairly openly.

Intelligent creatures can sense what you are doing when you attempt this, unless you expend extra effort to hide the fact that you are peering into their soul.

This is an epic skill use, and requires at least 21 ranks in the skill before it may be attempted.

Action Required:

Standard action

DC of Check:

15 + double the CR of the target

If the creature is using the epic skill use of Bluff to obscure their alignment, the DC is instead the result of their Bluff check.

Modifiers to Check
  • Hide Your Purpose: You can attempt to discern alignment without the subject realizing you are doing anything but looking them over, but doing so increases the DC by +10.
  • Take Your Time: You can spend a full minute (instead of a standard action) observing the target, reducing the DC by -5.
  • Partial Alignment: You can choose to only discern one axis of the target's alignment (choose either "law/chaos" or "good/evil"), reducing the DC by -5.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat only), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No

Results of Success

You are able to determine the alignment of the target creature.

Consequences of Failure

If you fail by 4 or less, you are unable to determine what the target creature's alignment might be.

If you fail by 5 or more (or roll a natural 1), you gain incorrect information.

Retry Allowed?

If you know you failed the check, you may retry after 24 hours. You may never attempt to discern alignment on the same creature more than once per 24 hours.

Provokes AOO?

No

Detect Surface Thoughts (Epic Use)

You can attempt to discern the surface thoughts of a creature you are able to converse with. You must speak a language that the target creature can speak, and the target creature must have an Intelligence score of at least 5.

If the target creature has an Intelligence score which is 10 higher than your own (or more), you may not attempt this skill use on them.

Unless you expend extra effort to mask what you are doing, your subject is fully aware that you are attempting to force them to reveal their secrets. This is more often used against helpless creatures than against those you just happen to chat up in a bar.

This is an epic skill use, and requires at least 21 ranks in the skill before it may be attempted.

Action Required:

3 rounds

DC of Check:

the target's Maneuver Defense

Modifiers to Check
  • Unobserved: You can attempt to detect surface thoughts without the target creature suspecting, but the DC is increased by +5.
  • Hasty Read: You can attempt to detect surface thoughts as a full round action (instead of 3 rounds), but the DC is increased by +5.
  • All the Time in the World: If you spend an hour in conversation with the target creature (instead of 3 rounds), the DC is reduced by -5.
  • Drunk: If the target creature's judgement is impaired, due to alcohol, drugs, or some other effect, the DC is reduced by -5.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat only), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No. (If assisting characters have a telepathic connection to the character attempting to discern surface thoughts, and also have at least 21 ranks in sense motive, they are permitted to assist. One wonders though, if you have a telepath in the party, why are you doing this the hard way?)

Results of Success

You are able to manipulate the conversation to the topic of your choosing, and thus force the subject's surface thoughts to be related to the topic you chose. You may ask two "yes or no" questions of the subject and they must answer truthfully.

For every 5 by which you exceed the DC, you may ask an additional "yes or no" question.

Consequences of Failure

The subject is able to stymie your efforts, either through sheer willpower, or by reciting nonsense to mask their thoughts.

Retry Allowed?

Yes, but never more than once per 24 hours on the same creature.

Provokes AOO?

No