Spot (WIS)

(Player's Handbook v.3.5 variant, p. 83)


Use this skill to notice bandits waiting in ambush, to see a rogue lurking in the shadows, to see through a disguise, to read lips, or to see the monstrous centipede in the pile of trash.


The Spot skill is used primarily to detect characters or creatures who are hiding. Typically, your Spot check is opposed by the Hide check of the creature trying not to be seen. Sometimes a creature isn't intentionally hiding but is still difficult to see, so a successful Spot check is necessary to notice it.

A Spot check result higher than 20 generally lets you become aware of an invisible creature near you, though you can't actually see it.

Spot is also used to detect someone in disguise (see the Disguise skill, page 72), and to read lips when you can't hear or understand what someone is saying.

The Dungeon Master may call for Spot checks to determine the distance at which an encounter begins. A penalty applies on such checks, depending on the distance between the two individuals or groups, and an additional penalty may apply if the character making the Spot check is distracted (not concentrating on being observant).

Condition Penalty
Per 10 feet of distance –1
Spotter distracted –5

Read Lips: To understand what someone is saying by reading lips, you must be within 30 feet of the speaker, be able to see him or her speak, and understand the speaker's language. (This use of the skill is language-dependent.) The base DC is 15, but it increases for complex speech or an inarticulate speaker. You must maintain a line of sight to the lips being read.

If your Spot check succeeds, you can understand the general content of a minute's worth of speaking, but you usually still miss certain details. If the check fails by 4 or less, you can't read the speaker's lips. If the check fails by 5 or more, you draw some incorrect conclusion about the speech. Your DM rolls your check secretly in this case, so that you don't know whether you succeeded or missed by 5.


Varies. Every time you have a chance to spot something in a reactive manner (for example, when someone tries to sneak past you while hidden, or you move into a new area), you can make a Spot check without using an action. Trying to spot something you failed to see previously is a move action. To read lips, you must concentrate for a full minute before making a Spot check, and you can't perform any other action (other than moving at up to half speed) during this minute.

Try again

Yes. You can try to spot something that you failed to see previously at no penalty. You can attempt to read lips once per minute.


A fascinated creature takes a –4 penalty on Spot checks made as reactions.

If you have the Alertness feat, you get a +2 bonus on Spot checks.

A ranger gains a bonus on Spot checks when using this skill against a favored enemy (see page 47).

An elf has a +2 racial bonus on Spot checks because elves have keen senses.

A half-elf has a +1 racial bonus on Spot checks. Her eyesight is good because of her elven heritage, but not as keen as that of a full elf.

The master of a hawk familiar (see the Familiars sidebar, page 52) gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in daylight or other lighted areas.

The master of an owl familiar (see the Familiars sidebar, page 52) gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in shadowy or other darkened areas.

Required for feats

Feat name
Clarity of Vision
Cougar's Vision
Deft Strike
Deft Strike
Distant Shot
Hawk's Vision
Point it Out
Quick Reconnoiter
Quick Reconnoiter
Recognize Imposter
Spot the Weak Point
Trap Sense
Uncanny Accuracy

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