# Thread: spot dc for a dragon

1. ## spot dc for a dragon

in my game i have an airship crew who will be looking for anything out of the ordinary that may be following and there is a dragon that is two miles out getting ready to attack. i need to have a base dc for a spot check and with all my research i cant find even a base for something that is not hiding.

2. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Not that I hold the answer regardless of this but:

How big is said dragon?
What color is it?

3. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

The SRD has this table for general skill DC's. Based on this, for a huge dragon at 2 miles, I'd put the DC at 15 or 20, and increase the DC by 5 for each size category larger than huge the dragon is, and vice-versa if it's smaller.

4. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

2 miles give -1056 spot penalty. However high is you spot and dragon is big, you would never spot him.

5. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
2 miles give -1056 spot penalty. However high is you spot and dragon is big, you would never spot him.
And this is why I ignore the RAW distance penalty for Spot, because -1 per 10 feet is reasonable for a hiding small or medium size creature indoors but is utter nonsense in other contexts. The sun has a spot DC of -10 (i.e. you can find where it is with your eyes closed), not 5x10^10.

The base 0 for "something large in plain sight" is a reasonable starting point for something that isn't hiding. Assuming a Huge dragon with a longest dimension of maybe 30 feet, it subtends a visual angle in the ballpark of something half an inch tall 10 feet away. That's smaller than Fine size, so a DC 20-25ish sounds fair.

6. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Could you suggest some better house rule? Something not subjective to a DM judging that could be easily calculated?

7. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
2 miles give -1056 spot penalty. However high is you spot and dragon is big, you would never spot him.
By that logic no one can ever see the moon, or clouds. Clearly the size and shape of the thing you're looking at plays a factor, not just distance.

8. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

How hard is it for you to see your average passenger jet, flying at 30,000 feet?

9. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Clearly the size and shape of the thing you're looking at plays a factor, not just distance
+4 per size category. move 40 ft away to negate.

10. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

well 25 is sounding around what i can come up with, in all my calculations include size, distance, lighting, clouds and even hide checks which work for the group. thank you all for your input

11. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Size-based spot modifiers should really be multiplicative.

Something twice as big should be visible twice as far (barring issues like atmospheric interference).

Spotting a light is goofy too. Visible at 20x the light radius. Which isn't even close to accurate. In good conditions (clear dark night) a candle is easily visible - as in it will catch your attention when you aren't looking for it - at a mile. Optimum for human vision is something like 25 miles. So something between 100x and 10,000x the light radius.

12. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
Could you suggest some better house rule? Something not subjective to a DM judging that could be easily calculated?
I certainly could. In fact, I did so in that very post. Use the provided DC of 0 for "something large in plain sight" (assume an 8-10' tall object 10ft away so that it hits the Large size category, though it's up to interpretation what "something large" actually means), compare the visual angle of the thing you're looking for to that and use the size category rules to apply a +4/-4 for each size category equivalent difference. So, +4 for each doubling of distance and -4 for each doubling of size.

13. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

The distance to target is 240ft. Target is large. Its hide skill is +4. My spot skill is +9. What is the DC to spot the target. Same question for slightly foggy air. Same question if I had designated 120ft-radius area to actively spot on. My friends on watch designed other threat areas to spot actively, so we could cover all approach routes. Change distance to 320ft and repeat all calculations.

14. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Is it foggy? You can't see it. Is it behind a cloud? You can't see it. Is it flying out in the open with no cover? You can see it.

Can you tell that it is a dragon at that distance? That is what the spot check can be used to reveal, I suppose.

15. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
The distance to target is 240ft. Target is large. Its hide skill is +4. My spot skill is +9. What is the DC to spot the target. Same question for slightly foggy air. Same question if I had designated 120ft-radius area to actively spot on. My friends on watch designed other threat areas to spot actively, so we could cover all approach routes. Change distance to 320ft and repeat all calculations.
Do all of that with the core rules and you have a point. Until then, **** off. I identified one specific issue I (and many others) have with the rules for Spot in a situation where it was relevant, provided a solution that maintains verisimilitude, and don't purport to have the answers to anything else.

16. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

So, you could not provide concise house rule with easy computable formulae that could give spot CR for arbitrary conditions. All you suggest is "when spot check is unbelievable just replace it with anything DM finds suitable".

17. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

What is wrong with that, precisely?

18. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
So, you could not provide concise house rule with easy computable formulae that could give spot CR for arbitrary conditions. All you suggest is "when spot check is unbelievable just replace it with anything DM finds suitable".
Your arbitrary conditions include conditions that aren't covered by the core rules or my suggested replacement. I don't answer "gotcha" questions as a matter of course, not to mention that I did, in fact, provide a concise and easily computable rule. State your point directly or stop talking to me.

edit: If you don't understand the rule, I can rephrase it for you. But you'll have to ask, and not ask me bull**** questions that aren't covered by it to try to trip me up.

19. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

If some conditions are not covered by your proposed system, just ignore them. Active spot is totally of official rules. But players frequently question how could it be represented in the system. Atmospheric conditions conditions are off from spot, but usable for listen. The listen has the same problems as spot - linear check penalty, so any homerule solution for spot would mostly apply to listen and vice versa.

So, could you provide calculations for that cases which are covered by your house rule?

20. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
The distance to target is 240ft. Target is large. Its hide skill is +4. My spot skill is +9. What is the DC to spot the target. Same question for slightly foggy air. Same question if I had designated 120ft-radius area to actively spot on. My friends on watch designed other threat areas to spot actively, so we could cover all approach routes. Change distance to 320ft and repeat all calculations.
If it's got no cover or concealment, it cannot hide, it is plainly visible according to the rules, no spot check required. The randomly rolled starting distances in the DMG account for terrain, hills, trees and other things that would get in the way from being able to see your target.

21. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
If some conditions are not covered by your proposed system, just ignore them. Active spot is totally of official rules. But players frequently question how could it be represented in the system. Atmospheric conditions conditions are off from spot, but usable for listen. The listen has the same problems as spot - linear check penalty, so any homerule solution for spot would mostly apply to listen and vice versa.

So, could you provide calculations for that cases which are covered by your house rule?
I already did. My houserule changes only the distance penalties for Spot, to +/-4 (applied to the DC, Hide check, or Spot check as appropriate) per doubling or halving of distance. If that's not a sufficient description, I would have happily explained and provided another example had you asked. But I have no tolerance for demands.

22. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by Crake
If it's got no cover or concealment, it cannot hide, it is plainly visible according to the rules, no spot check required. The randomly rolled starting distances in the DMG account for terrain, hills, trees and other things that would get in the way from being able to see your target.
DMG does not take into account target size. Dimunitive and Colossal targets has the same distance limit. Designers gives too little thought to the matter.

23. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by Siosilvar
I already did. My houserule changes only the distance penalties for Spot, to +/-4 (applied to the DC, Hide check, or Spot check as appropriate) per doubling or halving of distance. If that's not a sufficient description, I would have happily explained and provided another example had you asked. But I have no tolerance for demands.
I got lost in "compare the visual angle of the thing you're looking for" part. But is seems fluff and the logarithmic scale for size/distance is sufficient to rule other calculation. I need to calibrate bonuses though.

24. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
+4 per size category. move 40 ft away to negate.
So you can't see the moon then?

At some point you need (to use) common sense.

25. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by Psyren
So you can't see the moon then?

At some point you need (to use) common sense.
Common sense says that linear DC for distance is bull****. So base rules are unusable and should be replaced with house rules.

26. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
Common sense says that linear DC for distance is bull****. So base rules are unusable and should be replaced with house rules.
Those rules are only used when something is trying to hide or is "difficult to see", which neither moons nor flying dragons are normally. That use of Spot is an opposed check, and you shouldn't be rolling it at all otherwise. Crake is the one who got the rules right here.

27. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by Psyren
Crake is the one who got the rules right here.
Music to my ears

28. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

yes. For all other are terrain limits. So even if moon descends to Earth, it would still be unnoticed mile away in a light forest

29. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Originally Posted by ayvango
yes. For all other are terrain limits. So even if moon descendent to Earth, it would still be unnoticed mile away in a light forest
If any of your squares are without cover or concealment, you are automatically spotted. The moon most certainly rises above the terrain to match that criteria. Of course, if it was foggy, you would indeed not spot the moon until you got close enough.

30. ## Re: spot dc for a dragon

Just use the Spot rules in Stormwrack.

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