Awareness, awareness everywhere

Each game session, I have to ask my players to try many, many awareness tests.

-A bad wolf is looking after the Mages group, behind the trees ? They roll an awareness test.
-A smooth rogue is stealing the princess'necklace during a dance ? Characters there roll an Awareness test, again.
-One of the servants stand guard all the night during a travel ? Awareness test required !
-The supposed-to-be druid is examined, he may have hidden evidences : quick, roll an Awareness test !

How can I avoid that skill ? It seems like my players HAVE to increase that skill in particular.

For example, is it another skill fitting with "body-search" stuff ? (Maybe Folk ken ?)

I do not think this ability can be avoided.
The trick I think is to have mundanes who are specialized in it, or a familiar.
But basically most PC's should have an awareness of 2-3.
Other useful skills are folk ken, intrigue, guile and charm.
Naturally magic can compensate for lack in any of these.
But mostly a score of 3 is enough in my experience and easily attainable.

Another underrated ability is athletics.
The party travels on foot through the forest to the hidden regio they wish to investigate.
Roll athletics! Difficulty 6. Failure means a character arrives fatigued after a long trek through the hilly dense forest.
Now everyone except the Verditius has a minimum of 1 in athletics. The verditius still trecks through the forest in his fine Italian leather shoes contemplating how to enchant them to make life easier.

My main gaming group does this in general, regardless of game. If you have a low Awareness/Spot Hidden/Notice/Etc you are a clueless, oblivious, short-lived character and the world will have its way with you.

In ArM specifically, the magi tend to build Intelligo, too, regardless of other specialties. You can't address the issues without knowing what they are.

Careful not to confuse Perception with Awareness. The joy of the Characteristic + Ability system is that you can combine a wide range of applicable Abilities. I reserve Awareness for times when the character is specifically searching for something, letting Perception do the heavy lifting in other circumstances. You can often allow characters to default to Perception + Awareness, but this would either be harder (+3 to the EF) or you would learn less. Maybe on a success you just spot something is wrong, whereas using a more applicable Ability lets you know specifically what is wrong.

This is a Perception + Awareness in my book

I would consider Perception + Stealth, Perception + Legerdemain, or Perception + Folk Ken. The reasoning is that if you are good at sneaking and filching yourself, you are far more likely to spot others doing it.; or you might pick up on the thief's body language. Of course, these rolls will be made against the Characteristic + Ability (probably Dexterity + Legerdemain) of the rogue

For me, that is a Perception + Concentration. The mechanics of standing watch are discussed in Grogs.

That is Perception + Folk Ken, rolled against his Communication + Guile.

Awareness can easily become the super-Ability, but only if you let it!


Thanks for you help !
I didn't speak about the Characteristic part because they can vary and it's great. But Awareness was bothering me.

I will try to put into practice "Folk ken for body-search action" and "Specific Skill to counter said skill" suggests that evening (yay, it's special Halloween today, Watch out for Evil werewolf traitors).

One thing I found very useful was to remember that, if you need everyone to see something in order for the plot to proceed, don't ask for Awareness rolls. This probably sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how often we ask people to roll for something when, in fact, we don't just want them to succeed, we actually NEED them to succeed in order to tell our story.

You're traveling through the woods at night. There's a lonely cabin up ahead, where you might find shelter from the rain. Roll Awarness to spot the house in the rainy dark? Chances are someone is going to succeed, and you actually need them to, because that's where your adventure is located. So just have the character with the best score notice it, and tell everyone else.

Find the toad with a strange mark on its back, which is identical to the birthmark of the missing Prince? Well, you could ask everyone to roll, but really you want them to see this. Just let them succeed.

In games like Fate, this is defined as, "only roll the dice when both success and failure are interesting results. If failure isn't interesting, don't roll." Awareness is probably the most common example of an Ability which, when failed, is often an uninteresting result. Not all the time, of course. Your examples up there are all good times to roll (well, I'd probably just let them find the clue on the Druids body. Because it's no fun if they don't). But there may be other times when you can just skip to a successful outcome.

Definitely a good policy to run by. I also try to change up which character 'notices' the clues I want them to find, just so it's not always 'Jim noticed...' I've also been known to call for Awareness rolls when I want my players to investigate an area.
Abilities I have used instead of Awareness would include Folk Ken, Survival, Craft skills, Professions, Carouse, Medicine.. and that's just in the last year of game time.

You can always have them roll and the highest roll notices whatever needs to be noticed. Alternately you can also call for rolls when there is nothing to notice, just to set the mood...

I do this a lot

Of course. If you ask a roll, better have other ways to guide them to the clues !

I do that at every gaming session :slight_smile:

Thanks for all your comments, it was helpful !
I only asked two Awareness rolls monday, and found two happenings for Concentration and one for Folk ken.
At the end of the evening, I feeled like my players appreciated to use those abilities. Well, they did'nt save an unfortunate redcap, a whole village and a half monastery from slaughter (black druids can by silly you know ?), but they had an happy sojourn there anyways.

Awareness is precisely something important, because without awareness you can't act.

Many players forget that, and are useless in the first rounds of the fight/issue when their roll prevent them to act because they don't know how to act.

After that, it's only a matter of taste. I personnaly enjoy having awareness my best ability when playing a companion. You can never regret that. An awareness-skilled character is helpfull in a lot of situation.