Sense Motive (WIS)

(Player's Handbook v.3.5 variant, p. 81)


Use this skill to tell when someone is bluffing you, to discern hidden messages in conversations, or to sense when someone is being magically influenced. This skill represents sensitivity to the body language, speech habits, and mannerisms of others.


A successful check lets you avoid being bluffed (see the Bluff skill, page 67). You can also use this skill to determine when "something is up" (that is, something odd is going on) or to assess someone's trustworthiness. Your DM may decide to make your Sense Motive check secretly, so that you don't necessarily know whether you were successful.

Task Sense Motive DC
Hunch 20
Sense enchantment 25 or 15
Discern secret message Varies

Hunch: This use of the skill involves making a gut assessment of the social situation. You can get the feeling from another's behavior that something is wrong, such as when you're talking to an impostor. Alternatively, you can get the feeling that someone is trustworthy.

Sense Enchantment: You can tell that someone's behavior is being influenced by an enchantment effect (by definition, a mind-affecting effect), such as charm person, even if that person isn't aware of it. The usual DC is 25, but if the target is dominated (see dominate person in Chapter 11: Spells), the DC is only 15 because of the limited range of the target's activities.

Discern Secret Message: You may use Sense Motive to detect that a hidden message is being transmitted via the Bluff skill. In this case, your Sense Motive check is opposed by the Bluff check of the character transmitting the message. For each piece of information relating to the message that you are missing, you take a ?2 penalty on your Sense Motive check. For example, if you eavesdrop on people planning to assassinate a visiting diplomat, you take a ?2 penalty on your check if you don't know about the diplomat. If you succeed by 4 or less, you know that something hidden is being communicated, but you can't learn anything specific about its content. If you beat the DC by 5 or more, you intercept and understand the message. If you fail by 4 or less, you don't detect any hidden communication. If you fail by 5 or more, you infer some false information.Action

Trying to gain information with Sense Motive generally takes at least 1 minute, and you could spend a whole evening trying to get a sense of the people around you.

Try again

No, though you may make a Sense Motive check for each Bluff check made against you.


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

If you have the Negotiator feat, you get a +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks.


If you have 5 or more ranks in Sense Motive, you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks.

Also appears in

  1. Oriental Adventures

Required for feats

Feat name
Combat Intuition
Recognize Imposter