How are Perception checks handled by a group?

Quite simply : Say you want your five player to check to see if they can spot an Ambush. It’s already assumed this would be an Insight+Security check … but who does the rolling? Or rather how many?

Would all five players roll that to see if at least one of them would spot it? Would it only be one? ‘Assisting’ does not seem possible since it’s a reactionary roll rather than a planned one. But if everyone rolls, how is momentum and threat generation handled?

Similar to having players establishing a marching order in other RPGs, maybe when in a scenario where characters would need to be alert, ask at the beginning of the scene if any characters in particular are keeping watch/eye out for trouble (typically your security/command officers) and have them roll the check when it comes down to spotting the ambush.

It’s my experience from many RPGs that all the players will say that all their characters would be on the lookout instead of just one. Plus it does seem a little unfair to depend on just a single character to roll for the group in cases like these.

Also, actively looking and analysing is more Reason than Insight. Insight are for those instant spotting or “I have a bad feeling about this” moments, i.e not aware there would be ambush coming, but might notice a few small rocks rolling down a hill that instantly clues them into the fact that they might be ambushed by an unknown party.

You could have one character lead the check while other spotters are assisting.

Even if all the players would say they would be keeping an eye out for danger, the reality is that some people in a group would have reason to be paying less attention than others. For example if one officer is at the front navigating the terrain, their attention is focused on the route, if another officer is actively scanning for the MacGuffin/Plot Particles, their tricorder won’t be set for lifeform scanning etc.

As for choosing between Insight or Reason, I tend to let players pick between the two Attributes for what makes more sense for how that particular character would be keyed for noticing potential threats.

What I’ve done (we had a Romulan ambush last session) is have each player roll a check. The failures added Threat which could be used to make it harder for others to spot the ambush, or to add extra minor NPCs to the ambushing force. Threat generated this way doesn’t go into the main pool, but a specialized pool for the ambush only.

The logic I see to it is that each character failing to spot the threat reduces the alertness of others in the team, allowing the ambush to be potentially more effective.


I’ve generally assumed which ever player is responsible for security makes the roll - no assistance.

If no security personnel, then it passes to the science officer on the team - as they have a tricorder.

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I’ve used Security and Insight as my default.

What I did (during beta) was simply to say, “No major action round 1” - formally, I could have made it a temporary trait banning action, and didn’t allow the fails to go until all the passes had. And, of course, if one or more failed, the NPC’s get turn 1.

The core rules don’t cover surprise well. Operations manual doesn’t either.

How I’d handle it now is each fail is one free retain initiative for the NPCs, and unless all pass, NPCs first.


2 Simplest ways in my opinion:

  1. Spend Threat to enable enemies to go first. This works for any combat. Momentum isn’t generated and it costs you threat.
  2. Ask the players what they are doing, ask them to designate a Task Leader for the Insight+Security task, and allow what assistance you see fit. This is then an opposed roll against the assisted Control/Fitness+Security of the ambushers. If using generic stats then who is task leader for them doesn’t matter, but if there are multiple different Target Numbers I would use the lowest as the task leader (hiding is only as good as the worst). Momentum/Threat are generated and spent as any opposed roll.

I think of the One Ring game, where every party has different roles: scout, hunter, guide. And they’re responsible for the group roles in their department. This would fall under Security and could be assisted by the mission leader. If there’s an ambush, it would be opposed by the lead ambushers’ stealth roll.

I do not have the rules to hand, but does the miniatures game from the Ops Manual have anything on surprise? I think it is called Red Alert.

The hits on “surprise” are all fluff text, as is the one hit on ambush.

Hiding is all in the context of interrogations, not combat.