How To Calculate Passive Perception: A Simple Guide On How Intelligence Works In-Game

How To Calculate Passive Perception

Have you ever wondered why some people can accomplish a lot while others are not? The answer lies in their perception. You see, people who have a passive perception can focus on the right things at the right time.

They know that one cannot always do what they want to do, but instead of letting it get them down, they learn that there are other ways to accomplish their goals.

This article will explain how passive perception works and how it’s calculated.

How To Calculate Passive Perception

You can calculate passive perception in any of these two ways;

  • 10+ your wisdom(perception) modifier
  • 10+ wisdom bonus+ proficiency bonus (if you are proficient) +any other skills.  

In this instance, wisdom bonus accounts for +3, and proficiency bonus accounts for +2 making it a total of 15.

What Is Passive Perception

Passive perception is a term that comes from the field of psychology. It refers to how humans perceive their environment in a non-conscious way. 

It’s the ability to automatically detect and process environmental stimuli that allow us to stay safe in our everyday lives.

We’ll start with a bit of a review of human vision. We are not very good at processing what we see in-depth perception, but we are very good at recognizing patterns and movement.

Our eyes quickly notice the shapes and presence of color and beautiful or ugly designs.  In other words, passive perception is when something catches our eye while we aren’t even looking at it.

Passive perception is used in the gaming industry to describe how humans perceive virtual reality. For virtual reality (and augmented reality) to succeed, developers must understand how we process what we see and hear in a virtual environment.

To put it simply, it’s a measurement of how much sensory information your character gathers from the world around them without actively focusing on it. 

This value is determined by your character’s strength and skill in each of their five senses, including any enhancements or hindrances to these skills that may be present.

The passive perception stat, or PP for short, determines how familiar a character is of your actions around them. 

If a player has a high passive perception, you will notice pickpocketing and stealing from vendors. If they have a low passive perception, they won’t notice these things nearly as much.

How Does Passive Perception Work?

The brain has its way of getting information and comprehending it. This is called “passive perception.” 

The way our mind perceives information is like the way a computer processes data, except instead of using hard-coded programs to interpret what we see and hear, our brains automatically categorize the messages from our senses into pre-existing mental frameworks.

The beauty of passive perception is that it allows us to learn about our environment without consciously analyzing every detail. 

And this is also its weakness because our brains try to make sense of new information by fitting it into existing frameworks.

The sum of all the things you have done in your life is the sum of your perception. If you do not understand this concept and its meaning, you are lost in life.

Think back to when you were a baby. You had no perception because you didn’t have any experience or knowledge.

As you went through life and started having different experiences, your perception grew and changed.

Your perception is an accumulation of all of your past situations, events, knowledge, skills, beliefs, and so on. This is why some people seem wise, and others seem ignorant. 

Active Vs. Passive Perception

Passive perception is a theory that people never really pay attention to those who they see regularly. It’s best to understand the two different perceptions and how they affect your gaming.

Active perception is when people pay attention to what you are doing but don’t necessarily remember who you are.

Passive perception is when someone doesn’t pay attention to what you are doing but remembers who you are. This person will only think of you when they see your name/face/brand pop up again. 

Passive perception means that your brain takes in information, and you’re not even paying attention to it. 

It’s like a person passing by a coffee shop, smelling the coffee through the window, and then remembering that coffee shop when they’re out of coffee at home.

What Is A Passive Perception Score? 

What is the formula for passive perception? Well, that’s a good question. You can see your passive perception value by calculating your total score.

A passive perception score is a number that represents the amount of time the enemy spots you. 

The longer the enemy spots you, the higher your score is. A passive perception score indicates how likely a player is to notice a given creature or object.

However, keep in mind that this score does not entirely represent how well you are doing. You will rarely be spotted if you play stealthily and still have a high score.

Also, if two or more people are playing on your team, but only one person is on the opposite side, it will take longer to get spotted, even if you are playing poorly. 

How To Increase Your Passive Perception

  • Boost your wisdom score

You can take a feat or allocate ability score points every four levels. Your passive perception will improve as your wisdom grows.

  • Gain proficiency in the perception skill 

You can obtain competence from various sources, but your background and character class are the most common. With their Expertise feature, rogues can quadruple their sensing proficiency.

  • Take the Observant feat.

This grants you a +5 bonus to passive Perception and Investigation checks, as well as a bit of increase to your Intelligence or Wisdom score. It also can read lips, which may be beneficial.

Can You Roll Below Your Passive Perception Score?

The answer to this question is yes. It is common to roll below your passive perception depending on the situation. 

This doesn’t mean that you are less observant than usual. The enemy might be heavily camouflaged and stealthier than usual.

Let’s say that you are playing a character with a passive perception of 15. You will not notice something at fifteen feet away in the game or real life, even if it is right in front of you. The thing can be right there, and you won’t see it.

If someone throws the ball directly at your head, and it hits you straight between the eyes, you may not see the ball at all until it hits you. 

Is Proficiency Added To Passive Perception?

It is said that perception and proficiency are two different things. Perception is the awareness of a person regarding the objects in their environment. On the other hand, proficiency is the ability to execute a task effectively.

If these two faculties are different, is proficiency added to passive perception? Yes, indeed, proficiency easily adds to your passive perception score. 

Proficiency added to passive perception results in increased skill points. As you level up, you gradually gain proficiency, no matter your wisdom score.

Small Note On Using Passive Perception In Combat

Passive perception is an often-overlooked mechanic. While making a perception check, you can also use your passive perception. 

A character makes a passive Perception check when they might notice something interesting without looking for it.

For example, if you are in the middle of combat and you hear the sound of a door opening somewhere near you. You might roll a perception check to see if you notice the noise and react accordingly.

Passive perception is a game mechanic that does not get nearly as much credit as it deserves. It may seem like it’s not that big of a deal on the surface. 

After all, it’s only one point per level, and there are many more important things to spend your character points on.

But passive perception is more important than you think. It determines how often you get surprised by enemies, which is essential in determining how successful you will be as a player.  Being surprised in combat might be compared to death in the real world.

Your passive perception determines how far away you can spot hidden or stealthy creatures and objects. If your passive perception is too low, you will have a tough time finding people or things hiding in the shadows.


That is all there is to the passive perception; now you know how to calculate it. If you want to succeed in the intelligence game, it’s crucial to understand passive perception and how it works. 

Knowing this information will help you make better decisions when coming up with a plan for infiltration and may even prevent injury on your next mission.