I am a very new GM, with new players as well, and I am wondering how much information on a creature I should reveal if they make a successful nature/arcana/religion/whatever check. My players want to know the Will/Reflex/Fortitude saves a creature may have, as well as weaknesses and things like that, or maybe even how much total/current HP a creature may have.

I have no idea what kinds of information I should be reavealing, or if they may even need to make completely different checks for some of this information. (Such as a Heal check for how much HP a creature may have left, or something like that.)

Any guidance or insight would be much appreciated :)


3 Answers 3


The Rules Compendium (pg 130) suggests that a successful knowledge check reveals a creature's origin, type, typical temperment and keywords. If the hard DC is met or exceeded, the creature's resistances, vunerabilities and what it's powers do are also known.

I would be wary of adding further information to these checks, as there are items and powers specifically designed to provide some of these additional pieces of information.

As an example, a Foe Stone (level 12 Wondrous item) allows the following:

(Minor Action) Choose One creature you can see. You learn all the target's vunerabilities, as well as which of it's defenses is lowest.

The Goggles of Aura Sight (Level 5 uncommon) are another example:

Power Encounter (Minor Action)Choose a target within 10 squares of you. Learn the target's current and maximum hit point values, any current disease or poison conditions on the target, and any disease or poison effect the target can deal.

The Helm of Seven Deaths (Level 5 Rare) has a similar function as one of it's powers:

Utility Power At-Will (Minor Action)Effect: Choose one bloodied creature you have hit with an attack during this turn. You learn that creature’s current hit point total.

Several powers and abilities can only be used against bloodied etc. targets, so when a creature enters this state it should be mentioned. But as OrionDarkwood said, it is generally better to use vague terms such as 'it's looking very nearly dead' etc. rather than a specific hit-point value.

EDIT: As for Fortitude/ Reflex/ Will, a certain amount can be inferred from the type of creature - eg. big, hulking, things that like to bash stuff up close tend to be low on Will, but high on Fortitude, while weedy little spellcasters hiding at the back tend to be higher on Will, but low on Fortitude. Player's can pick this up fairly quickly as a general rule of thumb if they have several types of attack between them, as they'll take note of which attacks hit on lower rolls.


I mostly play 2e, but my group created Monster Lore LONG before it became vogue. I've been DMing for over 20 years. (No brag, just fact) We use the frequency of the creature as a modifier. In 2e, you had common, uncommon, rare, very rare, and Unique. You made a monster lore check and the modifiers ranged from base to -5 (2e, mind you. For 4e, increase the difficulty). IF you made your roll, you could be given what would be generally known knowledge about creatures. "Trolls abhor fire." -BUT, the amount of knowledge would be increased by the amount you made your roll. So, (2e) if you rolled a 1, you could recall many details about creatures that you had either read, or overheard in taverns, from bards, etc.

For rare and very rare creatures (which are usually the toughest) less information was available BECAUSE... very few "LIVED to tell the tale". Unique creatures would have almost as much false knowledge as real, because... peasants make wolves into worgs, Lions into Chimeras.

And never underestimate the use of Sages that can be sought out (Perseus seeks the witches, etc.) They make for good reference points, and can help bleed away excess party coin. Every DM's responsibility.

Good Luck!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! Good insight from past editions. I have to say I was skeptical here when I saw 2e, but you actually make quite good points here. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 15:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I've played all the editions. I've DM/GMed 1e, 2e, 3e, Runequest, Pathfinder, Warhammer FRP, Talislanta (original e) and played 4e. I'm not intimately familiar with 4e, but some DMing ideas bridge the editions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 11:48

Please note I have never played 4e so I do not know how the rules have been modified to cover this but in general here is the answer to the question.

Try to avoid offering direct HP instead use adjectives to relay that information such as the bear looks to be in great health or the bear is bleeding from a dozen deep wounds and is staggering on its feet.

As for reflex, fort and will checks I would use the same as above. Like the Deer is very swift on its feet or the Horse looks like it has the fortitude of well a horse.

Remember the checks are based on what they can see of the animal and using their experience to figure out what shape the animal is in.


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