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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > D&D Skills 101  > 5 Perception Skill Challenges for 5E D&D
5E D&D archer

5 Perception Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

D&D Ideas -- Boons
Exploring Eberron through the Mind Domain Cleric for 5E D&D

Salutations, nerds, and today we’re going to to be talking about five flash skill challenges for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons based on Perception. For example, did you notice the word ‘to’ was written twice in the previous sentence? The point of these is to give you a quick 5E D&D challenge to throw at characters for a moment of conflict when you need one or feel the need to slow things down. None of them are meant to send the party on some epic quest (though it’s always possible with the right — or wrong — group of players). Let’s get ready to roll some Perception checks.

5E D&D archer perception skill challenge

Illustrator Robson Michel describes this as a redesign inspired by the old D&D cartoon. [Art by Robson Michel]

5E D&D Perception skill challenges

Unleash the Urchins

During a street performance a robbery takes place — urchins throughout the crowd are picking pockets. A Wisdom (Perception) check (and you might have characters invested in the performance causing disadvantage) cause characters to realize small children are snaking coins out of the purses and pockets of the unwary.

Use When. There’s always at least one good option for a shopping trip in these, isn’t there? Well, here’s the one for Perception. You’re welcome.

Result of Failure. People get robbed. Maybe one of the adventurers ends up down a couple of gold pieces.

Body Double

A parade moves through town when there’s a faff at the head of the caravan as a horse rears. They get it taken care of fairly fast. It takes a successful Wisdom (Perception) check to notice the man who was on the float before has been replaced with a double in time to save the original from the people carting him off.

Use When. You need characters to feel like big heroes or you need to introduce an NPC. If it would be good for them to have friends in high places in the city, this is a good place to slip it in there.

Result of Failure. People start talking about the missing duke not a day later. Oops!

An Inconvenient Shadow

Adventurers walk down a crowded street and it takes a successful Wisdom (Perception) check to notice they’re being followed by a mysterious stranger. What does this person want? Well, that part is up to you.

Use When. You have a spot in your adventure you need to stretch a little bit where someone needs to give your party information. Or even better, when they just aren’t taking the hint but you want them to feel like they worked for their answers instead of just giving them over.

Result of Failure. They get blindsided by a mysterious stranger.


The party is at a dinner party. A Wisdom (Perception) check reveals one of the other party guests has slid a gas bag beneath the cushion of a character’s seat before they sit on it.

Use When. You want to establish an NPC as being kind of mischievous or you need a moment of levity.

Result of Failure. The whole court laughs at you.

Fine Print

Adventurers prepare to sign a contract for a job but there’s some mighty fine print at the end of it. A Wisdom (Perception) check for scrutiny shows one of the terms of the agreement are if they don’t put a dot after their signature their payment is forfeit.

Use When. You want to make the employer out to be a real bad dude and make characters feel clever in the process for having called out this nonsense.

Result of Failure. Woof. I feel pretty bad for the NPC who tried to pull this one over on them because I’ve never met a party that’s going to take this lying down.

And we’ve reached the end of the the line. I bet you caught it that time, right? Please let me know in the comments below if you decide to use any of these Perception skill challenges in your 5E D&D games because no adventure plan ever survives first contact with its players. And as always, stay nerdy!

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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