Listen (WIS)

(Player's Handbook v.3.5 variant, p. 78)


Use this skill to hear approaching enemies, to detect someone sneaking up on you from behind, or to eavesdrop on someone else's conversation.


Your Listen check is either made against a DC that reflects how quiet the noise is that you might hear, or it is opposed by your target's Move Silently check.

Your DM may decide to make the Listen check for you, so that you don't know whether not hearing anything means that nothing is there, or that you failed the check.

Listen DC Sound
?10 A battle
0 People talking 1
5 A person in medium armor walking at a slow pace (10 ft./round) trying not to make any noise.
10 An unarmored person walking at a slow pace (15 ft./round) trying not to make any noise
15 A 1st-level rogue using Move Silently to sneak past the listener
15 People whispering 1
19 A cat stalking
30 An owl gliding in for a kill

1 If you beat the DC by 10 or more, you can make out what's being said, assuming that you understand the language.

Listen DC Modifier Condition
+5 Through a door
+15 Through a stone wall
+1 Per 10 feet of distance
+5 Listener distracted

In the case of people trying to be quiet, the DCs given on the table could be replaced by Move Silently checks, in which case the indicated DC would be their average check result (or close to it). For instance, the DC 19 noted on the table for a cat stalking means that an average cat has a +9 bonus on Move Silently checks. Assuming an average roll of 10 on 1d20, its Move Silently check result would be 19.


Varies. Every time you have a chance to hear something in a reactive manner (such as when someone makes a noise or you move into a new area), you can make a Listen check without using an action. Trying to hear something you failed to hear previously is a move action.

Try again

Yes. You can try to hear something that you failed to hear previously with no penalty.


When several characters are listening to the same thing, a single 1d20 roll can be used for all the individuals' Listen checks.

A fascinated creature takes a ?4 penalty on Listen checks made as reactions.

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

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

An elf, gnome, or halfling has a +2 racial bonus on Listen checks, thanks to the keen ears with which members of those races are blessed.

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

A sleeping character may make Listen checks at a ?10 penalty. A successful check awakens the sleeper.

Required for feats

Feat name
Hear The Unseen
Keen-Eared Scout
Listen to This
Quick Reconnoiter
Quick Reconnoiter