searching a room in DnD 5e
by Samuel James in
DnD Rules

Today, we’re going to delve into one of the most crucial aspects of exploration: searching a room. Understanding the ins and outs of searching a room can mean the difference between life and death, or at least between finding that sweet hidden treasure and walking away empty-handed.

What is Searching, and Why Should You Care?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of searching a room, let’s take a step back and understand what “searching” really means in DnD 5e. In a nutshell, searching is the process of actively looking for something, be it clues, traps, or hidden doors. It’s an integral part of the game, as it allows your characters to uncover secrets, avoid danger, and progress through the story.

So, whether you’re a dungeon master (DM) guiding your players through a treacherous labyrinth or a player trying to outsmart the DM, learning the mechanics of searching a room is essential.

Perception vs. Investigation: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to searching a room in DnD 5e, two main skills come into play: Perception and Investigation. Both skills are used to gather information, but they function in slightly different ways.


Perception is all about using your senses to spot, hear, or otherwise detect something. It’s a passive skill, meaning you don’t have to actively declare that you’re using it. Your DM will often ask you to make a Perception check to notice something in your surroundings, such as a hidden enemy or a trap.

See also  Guide: Medicine Check To Stabilize 5e


Investigation, on the other hand, is an active skill. It involves carefully examining and analyzing your surroundings to deduce information or draw conclusions. When you declare that your character is searching a room, you’ll typically make an Investigation check.

Now that we understand the distinction between Perception and Investigation, let’s dive deeper into the mechanics of searching a room.

How to Search a Room in DnD 5e: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to search a room effectively in DnD 5e:

  1. Declare Your Intent: Tell your DM that you want to search the room. Be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for, whether it’s hidden doors, traps, or any signs of recent activity.
  2. Roll an Investigation Check: The DM will typically ask you to roll an Investigation check. To do this, roll a d20 and add your Investigation modifier (which includes your Intelligence modifier and any proficiency bonuses, if applicable).
  3. DM Determines the Outcome: The DM will compare your Investigation check result to the Difficulty Class (DC) they’ve set for finding the specific thing you’re looking for. If your result equals or exceeds the DC, you succeed in finding it. Otherwise, you fail and might not notice anything out of the ordinary.
  4. Consider Passive Perception: Sometimes, your DM might take your character’s passive Perception into account when searching a room. Passive Perception is 10 + your Perception modifier. If your passive Perception is high enough, you might spot something without even trying!
  5. Remember the Rule of Cool: Don’t get bogged down in the mechanics! DnD is all about having fun and telling a story. If you have a creative idea for searching a room that doesn’t strictly adhere to the rules, run it by your DM. They might reward your ingenuity with a bonus or an advantage on your check.
  6. Use Your Tools and Abilities: Don’t forget about your character’s unique tools and abilities! Thieves’ Tools can help you disarm traps, while class features like a Ranger’s Primeval Awareness or a Wizard’s Detect Magic spell can give you valuable information about your surroundings.
  7. Work as a Team: Remember, searching a room doesn’t have to be a solo effort. Collaborate with your fellow party members to cover more ground and make the most of your combined skills and abilities. For example, a Rogue might focus on checking for traps, while a Wizard uses Detect Magic to search for magical items or hidden doors.
  8. Keep an Eye on Time: Searching a room can be a time-consuming process. Make sure you’re aware of any in-game time constraints or external threats, as spending too much time searching might lead to unwanted consequences. Your DM might use the passage of time to introduce complications, such as wandering monsters or a ticking clock on an important quest objective.
See also  The Average of a d10: Rolling Your Way Through Dungeons & Dragons

Tips and Tricks for Successful Searching

To help you master the art of searching a room in DnD 5e, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your DM is there to help you, so if you’re unsure about something or need clarification, just ask.
  • Use your surroundings to your advantage. If there’s a specific feature in the room (like a bookshelf or a suspicious-looking statue), don’t hesitate to interact with it.
  • Be thorough but also efficient. Remember that spending too much time searching can have consequences, so try to strike a balance between being thorough and keeping the game moving.
  • Take notes! Jotting down important details or clues can be a lifesaver when trying to piece together a puzzle or remember crucial information later on.
  • Trust your instincts. Sometimes, your gut feeling can lead you to important discoveries, so don’t be afraid to follow your intuition.

Final Thoughts

Searching a room is a critical aspect of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and understanding the mechanics behind it can greatly enhance your gameplay experience. By utilizing Perception and Investigation skills, working as a team, and keeping the rule of cool in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to uncover hidden secrets and navigate the dangers of any dungeon.

So grab your dice, gather your party, and embark on your next adventure with newfound confidence in your searching abilities. Remember, a keen eye and a curious mind can make all the difference in the world of DnD!

Samuel James is a passionate writer with a love for MMO and ARPG games. When he's not busy exploring virtual worlds, he enjoys taking his dog for long walks and writing detailed gaming guides for XPGoblin. He also loves watching sci-fi films, with a particular fondness for the works of Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott.
Share Post:

Related Posts