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Sense Motive (Wisdom)

This material is Open Game Content, and is licensed for public use under the terms of the Open Game License v1.0a.


A successful check lets you avoid being bluffed (see the Bluff skill). You can also use this skill to determine when “something is up” (that is, something odd is going on) or to assess someone’s trustworthiness.

TaskSense Motive DC
Sense enchantment25 or 15
Discern secret messageVaries


This use of the skill involves making a gut assessment of the social situation. You can get the feeling from another’s behavior that something is wrong, such as when you’re talking to an impostor. Alternatively, you can get the feeling that someone is trustworthy.

Sense Enchantment: You can tell that someone’s behavior is being influenced by an enchantment effect (by definition, a mind-affecting effect), even if that person isn’t aware of it. The usual DC is 25, but if the target is dominated (see dominate person), the DC is only 15 because of the limited range of the target’s activities.

Discern Secret Message

You may use Sense Motive to detect that a hidden message is being transmitted via the Bluff skill. In this case, your Sense Motive check is opposed by the Bluff check of the character transmitting the message. For each piece of information relating to the message that you are missing, you take a -2 penalty on your Sense Motive check. If you succeed by 4 or less, you know that something hidden is being communicated, but you can’t learn anything specific about its content. If you beat the DC by 5 or more, you intercept and understand the message. If you fail by 4 or less, you don’t detect any hidden communication. If you fail by 5 or more, you infer some false information.


Trying to gain information with Sense Motive generally takes at least 1 minute, and you could spend a whole evening trying to get a sense of the people around you.

Try Again

No, though you may make a Sense Motive check for each Bluff check made against you.


A ranger gains a bonus on Sense Motive checks when using this skill against a favored enemy.

If you have the Negotiator feat, you get a +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks.


If you have 5 or more ranks in Sense Motive, you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks.

Crime and Punishment
Author Keith Baker
Series Campaign Style
Publisher Atlas Games
Publish date 2003

Sense Motive allows you to determine whether someone can be trusted and whether his behavior is being influenced by mystical forces. But if you are especially observant, your sensitivity to body language can allow you to gain additional information about the people you are dealing with.

Check: You may make a Sense Motive check to perform either of the following tasks:

Spot Sense MotiveOpponent’s Sense Motive check
Spot Spell Use20 + Opponent’s Charisma Modifier
SpotSense Motive: As a careful conversationalist, you can get an idea of whether or not an opponent is paying undue attention to your words — specifically, whether he is using Sense Motive against you. The DC is based on his Sense Motive check; as a result, the more skilled character will typically spot the novice, while his own actions remain hidden.

Spot Spell Use: A related ability, this allows you to determine if someone you are speaking to is using spells or psionic powers to analyze your conversation – for example, discern lies or detect thoughts. You do not receive any sort of information about the nature of the spell, simply that the level of Concentration indicates that a spell of some sort is being maintained. At the GM’s discretion, this may not work against creatures for whom the power is a natural ability – for example, a doppelganger’s power to detect thoughts at will.

Retry: No. The checks are automatic and require no conscious action on your part, but if you miss the cues you don’t get to try again. Typically the GM will make these rolls on your behalf; if you fail the check, you won’t even know that it was made.

Special You must have at least 5 ranks of Spot to notice these details.

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