10 More Things to Say When a PC Makes a Perception Check and Finds Nothing

Players are a paranoid bunch. In a dungeon or other hostile environment they often search everything in case some lurking danger might take them unawares. Even worse, than lurking danger the thought of hidden loot unfound can cause many an adventurer a sleepless night.

By Matt Morrow

By Matt Morrow


Use the table below, when a PC makes a Perception check and finds nothing.

  1. You listen intently for the least sound, but suddenly one of your companions coughs loudly and ruins your concentration.
  2. Although you detect no obvious dangers in the immediate area a prickly feeling between your shoulder blades just won’t go away…
  3. A sudden breath of wind sighs through the area—it almost sounds like the dungeon itself is breathing…
  4. Marks in the dust are suggestive of something disturbing it, but you don’t know what did the disturbing.
  5. Spider webs cluster thickly in one corner. As you watch, the whole mass seems to pulsate and move as if disturbed by air moving through some hidden niche or crack.
  6. As you observe the area, a cold shiver briefly grips your body. As quickly as it comes it goes—what caused it is impossible to say with any certainty.
  7. Sweat drips down your forehead and into your eyes, momentarily blurring your vision. No matter, there is nothing to see here…
  8. Your footsteps echo strangely in this place—as if the area was larger than it first appears.
  9. You don’t hear anything out of the ordinary except for a faint sound of ringing in your ears. You wait a few moments, but it doesn’t go away.
  10. The area seems safe, but—bizarrely—your nose starts to tingle and you have the overwhelming urge to scratch it.

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13 thoughts on “10 More Things to Say When a PC Makes a Perception Check and Finds Nothing

  1. On number 5, I expected it to be “as if disturbed by air… or something within…” But, that could just be my cruel DM side talking. XD

  2. these cracked me up. fabulous work, Creighton. well done. as i just made a 1,028 mile road trip to see my dad in the hospital — and then got to Dallas and was lost in all the highway construction and detours making a 15-hour trip take 16 hours — i’m now writing up a short list of minor hallucinations that commonly occur with sleep deprivation. (e.g., “whenever you move forward in the dark your muscles ache with concentrated tension. however whenever your companions bring the lantern forward the stone walls and floor seem to slightly undulate, as if the dungeon were breathing.”)