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A thief has a “hear noise” ability, but the cleric has functional ears too, and the thief is busy having been flattened by the falling stone trap. Also, the cleric only knows animate dead, not raise dead. How does she listen for the snoring dragon behind that door?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help centre (rpg.stackexchange.com/help) for more guidance. What edition of DnD are you referring to? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 1:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ With a cup. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 1:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I take it this is AD&D 1e you are referring to? \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Those are called "Listening Cones" in the Complete Thief's Handbook. They provide a +5 (+25%) modifier to the usual roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 8:34

2 Answers 2

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All characters have a percentage chance to hear noises.

There is long section of rule text in the 1e DMG (pg 60, Efreet cover, Door to Heck cover) — but it consistently refers to "characters" listening, with no special call out to the thief class or any other class. A generous reading is that any person could listen with the same chance as a 1st level thief.

In AD&D 2nd Edition DMG (pg 129 Dragon Wizard cover, pg 175 Humanoids cover) there is this (plus more), which makes that reading explicit.

All characters have a percentage chance to hear noises, the percentage varying by race, as listed on Table 83. This ability is equal to that of a 1st-level thief (however, thieves can choose to increase this score).

So .. the cleric can listen at the door like anyone else.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fun fact - the Doors to Heck cover edition of the 1e DMG has the same contents as the Efreet cover edition, including this footnote on the foreword page: "The book cover painting shows an encounter between three adventurers and on efreet on the Elemental Plane of Fire. The fabled City of Brass can be seen floating over a flame-swept sea of oil." \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 8:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 2e rule is probably correct, but I'm asking specifically about 1e. Is there a rule somewhere that describes that mechanic in any of the 1e books? \$\endgroup\$
    – munk
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @munk As stated in my answer, there's a similar block or rule text in the 1e DMG. It's on page 60. The 2e rules text just stated the same thing, but made explicit it's for "all characters". \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry, I misread that completely! I’ve checked both references and this exactly what I was after, thank you!! \$\endgroup\$
    – munk
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ In DMG p60, shows probabilities of hearing based on race from 10% to 20%. "Keen-eared individuals will gain a bonus of 1 or 2 in 20 (5% or 10%). Use chance of hearing noise to determine if a character is keen-eared." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 24, 2020 at 18:38
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It's up to you

In A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming, Matthew J. Finch describes how players used to play without ability checks. (Emphasis mine)

"The players can describe any action, without needing to look at a character sheet to see if they ‘can’ do it. The GM, in turn, uses common sense to decide what happens."

"You don’t have a ‘spot’ check to let you notice hidden traps and levers, you don’t have a ‘bluff’ check to let you automatically fool a suspicious city guardsman [...]"

As you can see for yourself, there is no "check". The character simply tells you he listens closely and you determine whether he can hear the snoring dragon or not.

You can read more about skill checks here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @iaminsensible This isn't quite what I'm after. While this is how I usually resolve the situation at my table, I'm curious if there is actually a mechanic, spelled out, however poorly, in any of the AD&D 1e rule books. \$\endgroup\$
    – munk
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ No. The first AD&D versions didn’t have any short of ability check. The only mechanic you could use is probably 3.5e’s \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 13:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure that’s true. Moldvay certainly had ability checks, as does 2e. \$\endgroup\$
    – munk
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @munk please put these pertinent clarifications in the original question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DetectiveChimp The question is tagged adnd and I ask How does she listen. I'm not sure what clarifying details you need. \$\endgroup\$
    – munk
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 14:56

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