In D&D 5e, I can't find a skill check for identifying monsters. (Other than Arcana for planar monsters). Can PCs identify monsters, and if so, what skill should they use? (Or is it just a Wis/Int check?)


2 Answers 2


It's almost certainly going to be Wis and Int Checks. The question is which skill proficiencies will apply to those checks depending on what their origin is.

This is generally the Purview of the Monster Manual and DMG, however, Mearls has said that more of Basic D&D is will be released this coming week. We should know a lot more when Basic D&D expands.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! One more thing I'm hoping will be in the PHB I guess... \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Aug 10, 2014 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Took me a while to find a link for the expansion of Basic, I'll add it here in case anyone else goes looking: escapist \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Aug 10, 2014 at 14:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 This answer needs to be updated. I'm surprised it didn't get more support, since players always ask if they "recall" something about any new creature they're confronted with. \$\endgroup\$
    – Meta4ic
    Apr 13, 2016 at 20:51

As a DM, my rule of thumb is very simple.

If they have encountered the creatures before, then they should be able to identify said monster. One usually doesn't forget monsters they have encountered.

If they speak the language, they should be able to identify the monster. Knowledge is power.

If they are part of that race, half-orc / half-elf etc... they should know what the monster is.

Lastly, if they have dedicated off-adventure time to the study of races and cultures and the monsters race has been in their studies, they would be able to identify the monster.

If not, so sad. Previous knowledge from other characters played does not allow the characters to have insight. Common problem. A dog appears beside you, attacks and shortly thereafter, disappears to reappear a few feet away. Player yells "Blink Dogs, I know how to kill them" How did they know it was a blink dog. The players have to play their current character and the DM has to ensure that they do. Makes the game a whole lot more fun.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't "dedicated off-adventure time to the study of races and cultures and the monsters race has been in their studies" be represented by some sort of check, thus entirely begging the question? \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Nov 23, 2016 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi! Keep in mind that this site is for Q&A and isn't a discussion forum. It feels like this post is a discussion tangent, since it doesn't attempt to address the core question of which skill is used to identify monsters. Maybe you consider that to already be implied by your post, but if so it needs an edit to make its core answer to the question explicit instead. Thanks! For more about how the site is different from a discussion forum, check out our tour. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2016 at 20:04

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