What skill or roll does one use when a character wants to guess the abilities of another player?

Specific situation 1: One of our players was in a fighting pit with 3 NPC's. Last man standing would get the prize money. One of the things one would do in such a situation is guess which opponent would be the biggest threat. Initially he had only the appearance of the NPC's to go by, but after a few moments standing back and watching them an experienced fighter should be able to make a reasonable guess.

Specific situation 2: My character (a rogue) sees a group of NPC's observing and trying to break into a building. Since we had to be in that building and therefore possible also had to deal with this group, we wanted to know how experienced that other group was.

What rolls/skills would one use for that? We couldn't find anything in the core rulebooks. I would expect that the skills (as a fighter/as a rogue) are involved. Are there any rules for this?

Bonus question

How would one handle the situation where the NPC actively tries to mislead the PC? For example, a fighter pretending to be worse than he actually is.

This would probably involve two rolls: one to detect the Bluff and one to detect the ability of the NPC as in the previous question. Here I would also expect the skills of the PC to be involved in the roll (an experienced fighter will easier see though the bluff of another fighter).

I guess that in the case of a fight one could use the rules for Feint (Bluff opposed by Sense Motive with the Base Attack added to the Sense Motive Roll). But I am curious if there are specific rules for this and also rules for other skills.


I am looking for official rules. Preferable ones which have been used and found working. Making up a home brew rule is probably not that difficult (ranks in skill involved (base attack for combat) with Wisdom modifier would probably do).

  • \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of Is there a way to learn someone's level in game in DnD3.x? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2014 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I don't think it is an exact duplicate, as that question asks for methods that exactly determine the level of an NPC which is more specific than I am asking here. However, the 'sense motive' addition from 'Complete Adventurer' seems to be a (partial) answer to my question. It does seem to focus only on combat and not skill. I can't use that to determine if someone is a better pickpocket than I am. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2014 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really don't think you're going to find even better answers to this question than the answers for that question. I don't think the game goes much deeper than the answers provided there. Don't worry yet, though: Mine's but 1 Close vote, and the other question is more fighty even while having answers that address similar points to this question. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2014 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is it not Appraise? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2014 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Garan Because Appraise represents skill in judging the monetary value of works of art and jewellery. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2014 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


The Feat from The Complete Adventurer page 106 Combat Intuition serves as the answer to your first question, it takes a feat to accurately gauge someones threat or danger beyond the obvious.

**Combat Intuition [General, Fighter] (CAdv p106)

Base Attack Bonus +5 Sense Motive: 4 ranks

As a Free Action, you can make a Sense Motive check to assess the challenge presented by an opponent (CAdv p102). You gain a +4 bonus to the check, and narrow the result to a single category. Whenever you make a melee attack against a creature you also attacked in melee last round, gain a+1 Insight bonus to your attack roll.**

The Feat from Players Handbook I page 95 Improved Feint: This feat will grant you the benefits of pretending to be less skilled then your opponent in combat. However to the question of how good are you hiding your skill when not in combat is merely a bluff or disguise check depending if the situation is visual or social.

As for breaking and entering that is a whole-whack of skills that depend heavily on the building in question so I cannot say that all skills could be useful depending on the situation.


You can assess the combat prowess of an opponent, identifying particularly dangerous or vulnerable foes. Assess Opponent: As a standard action, you can use Sense Motive to ascertain how tough a challenge an opponent poses for you, based on your level and your opponent’s CR. This skill check is opposed by the opponent’s Bluff check. To attempt this task, your opponent must be visible to you and within 30 feet. If you have seen the opponent in combat, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on the check. The accuracy of the assessment depends on the amount by which your Sense Motive check result exceeds the opposed Bluff check result. On a successful Sense Motive opposed check, you can gain the following information: Assess Opponent Opponent’s CR Result 4 or more less than your level/HD A pushover 1, 2, or 3 less than your level/HD Easy Equal to your level/HD A fair fight Equal to your level/HD plus 1, 2, or 3 A tough challenge Exceeds your level/HD by 4 or more A dire threat A successful assessment reveals that your foe belongs in one of two adjacent categories (for example, “Easy” or “A fair fight”). If your Sense Motive check result exceeds the opposed Bluff check result by 10 or more, you can narrow the result down to a single category. By contrast, if the target’s Bluff check result equals or slightly exceeds your Sense Motive check result, you gain no useful information. If the target’s Bluff check result exceeds your Sense Motive check result by 5 or more, you may (at the DM’s option) gain a false impression, believing your opponent to be much stronger or weaker than he really is (equal chance of either). If the target’s Bluff check result exceeds your Sense Motive check result by 10 or more, your assessment is off by at least two categories (for example, a dire threat might be assessed as a fair fight).

Page 102 of the Complete Adventurer

And their is no reason this cannot be adapted for any threat related to any skill not just combat if the creature is higher CR it might be better at everything then you, you can shift the category as much as you want. It is still the same skill, Sense motive apposed by the opponents bluff, if observed action(that requires that skill) you gain a +2 circumstance bonus, this applies to all checks of assessing your opponent or ally.


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