DM Tip: Perception Test

I’ve seen other RPG creators having fun with googly eyes in their source books and maps and such, and thought I’d bring my own independently developed googly eye idea to the table.

This is something that started innocently enough. My wife had some massive googly eyes that wandered around the house and one day I put them near the kitchen table to see how long it would take for the Haven players to notice them. When they didn’t say anything the first couple of weeks, I decided I’d give a perception bonus to first one to mention them. Eventually, we added fangs to draw attention, and so a tradition was born.

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Now, every week my wife (the “Dungeon Mom”) hides a pair of googly eyes somewhere near the kitchen (or on the way to the kitchen, in someĀ cases) and the first player to spot them gets a +1 to perception for the session.

Now that all the players know to be looking for them, we don’t use the massive googly eyes. We have an array of sizes we can suit to the location.

We’ve also gotten more creative with the locations:


  • On the eyes of baby portraits
  • On table decorations
  • On the smoke detector over the table
  • On the welcome sign outside the front door
  • On my own ear lobes

We may one day go so far as to hide them outside each of the player’s own homes, but for now there are still plenty of good places around the kitchen.

Now, if you’re thinking something like ‘this breaks the immersion of the game’ or ‘the character is getting an in-game bonus for out-of-game performance,’ you’re absolutely right, and you might be engaged in Roleplaying Games primarily for the Fantasy aesthetic.

I’ve talked about aesthetics of play before with regards to traps and hooks, but in this case, it’s a question of balance I’d like to address more in depth at a later date. In this case, the game I am running is at least as focused on the Fellowship as it is on the Fantasy, and this practice willingly trades some immersion for socialization at the start of the session. It’s a trade I’m happy to make, since Fellowship is the first aesthetic I want to peak in the pacing of the session.

If you enjoy these discussions, please share. I am writing wildly to get a module similar to the Primordial Frontier campaign to market in June, and any traffic I can get during the release would be a great help.

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