Deception (Cha)

Deception Examples
Example Circumstances Sense Motive
The target wants to believe you. -5
The bluff is believable and doesn’t affect the target much. +0
The bluff is a little hard to believe or puts the target at some risk. +5
The bluff is hard to believe or puts the target at significant risk. +10
The bluff is way out there, almost too incredible to consider. +20



A Deception check is opposed by the target’s Sense Motive check. See the accompanying table for examples of different kinds of bluffs and the modifier to the target’s Sense Motive check for each one.

Favorable and unfavorable circumstances weigh heavily on the outcome of a bluff. Two circumstances can weigh against you: The bluff is hard to believe, or the action that the target is asked to take goes against its self-interest, nature, personality, orders, or the like. If it’s important, you can distinguish between a bluff that fails because the target doesn’t believe it and one that fails because it just asks too much of the target. For instance, if the target gets a +10 bonus on its Sense Motive check because the bluff demands something risky, and the Sense Motive check succeeds by 10 or less, then the target didn’t so much see through the bluff as prove reluctant to go along with it. A target that succeeds by 11 or more has seen through the bluff.

A successful Deception check indicates that the target reacts as you wish, at least for a short time (usually 1 round or less) or believes something that you want it to believe. Deception, however, is not a suggestion spell.

A bluff requires interaction between you and the target. Creatures unaware of you cannot be bluffed.

Feinting in Combat

You can also use Deception to mislead an opponent in melee combat (so that it can’t dodge your next attack effectively). To feint, make a Deception check opposed by your target’s Sense Motive check, but in this case, the target may add its base attack bonus to the roll along with any other applicable modifiers.

If your Deception check result exceeds this special Sense Motive check result, your target is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) for the next melee attack you make against it. This attack must be made on or before your next turn.

Feinting in this way against a nonhumanoid is difficult because it’s harder to read a strange creature’s body language; you take a -4 penalty on your Deception check. Against a creature of animal Intelligence (1 or 2) it’s even harder; you take a -8 penalty. Against a nonintelligent creature, it’s impossible.

Feinting in combat does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Creating a Diversion to Hide

You can use the Deception skill to help you hide. A successful Deception check gives you the momentary diversion you need to attempt a Stealth check while people are aware of you. This usage does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Delivering a Secret Message

You can use Deception to get a message across to another character without others understanding it. The DC is 15 for simple messages, or 20 for complex messages, especially those that rely on getting across new information. Failure by 4 or less means you can’t get the message across. Failure by 5 or more means that some false information has been implied or inferred. Anyone listening to the exchange can make a Sense Motive check opposed by the Deception check you made to transmit in order to intercept your message (see Sense Motive).


Varies. A Deception check made as part of general interaction always takes at least 1 round (and is at least a full-round action), but it can take much longer if you try something elaborate. A Deception check made to feint in combat or create a diversion to hide is a standard action. A Deception check made to deliver a secret message doesn’t take an action; it is part of normal communication.

Try Again

Varies. Generally, a failed Deception check in social interaction makes the target too suspicious for you to try again in the same circumstances, but you may retry freely on Deception checks made to feint in combat. Retries are also allowed when you are trying to send a message, but you may attempt such a retry only once per round.

Each retry carries the same chance of miscommunication.


A ranger gains a bonus on Deception checks when using this skill against a favored enemy.

The master of a snake familiar gains a +3 bonus on Deception checks.


If you have 5 or more ranks in Deception, you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sleight of Hand checks, as well as on Deception checks made when you know you’re being observed and you try to act in character.

Deception Check Modifiers
Deception Deception Check
  1. These modifiers are cumulative; use any that apply.
  2. Per step of difference between your actual age category and your disguised age category. The steps are: young (younger than adulthood), adulthood, middle age, old, and venerable.
Minor details only +5
Deception as different gender1 -2
Deception as different race1 -2
Deception as different age category1 -22



Your Deception check result determines how good the disguise is, and it is opposed by others’ Perception check results. If you don’t draw any attention to yourself, others do not get to make Perception checks. If you come to the attention of people who are suspicious (such as a guard who is watching commoners walking through a city gate), it can be assumed that such observers are taking 10 on their Perception checks.

You get only one Deception check per use of the skill, even if several people are making Perception checks against it. The Deception check is made secretly, so that you can’t be sure how good the result is.

The effectiveness of your disguise depends in part on how much you’re attempting to change your appearance.

Familiarity Viewer’s Perception
Check Bonus
Recognizes on sight +4
Friends or associates +6
Close friends +8
Intimate +10

If you are impersonating a particular individual, those who know what that person looks like get a bonus on their Perception checks according to the table below. Furthermore, they are automatically considered to be suspicious of you, so opposed checks are always called for.

Usually, an individual makes a Perception check to see through your disguise immediately upon meeting you and each hour thereafter. If you casually meet many different creatures, each for a short time, check once per day or hour, using an average Perception modifier for the group.


Creating a disguise requires 1d3×10 minutes of work.

Try Again

Yes. You may try to redo a failed disguise, but once others know that a disguise was attempted, they’ll be more suspicious.


Magic that alters your form, such as alter self, disguise self, polymorph, or shapechange, grants you a +10 bonus on Deception checks (see the individual spell descriptions). You must succeed on a Deception check with a +10 bonus to duplicate the appearance of a specific individual using the veil spell. Divination magic that allows people to see through illusions (such as true seeing) does not penetrate a mundane disguise, but it can negate the magical component of a magically enhanced one.

You must make a Deception check when you cast a simulacrum spell to determine how good the likeness is.

Deception Check Modifiers
Condition Reader’s Deception
Check Modifier
Type of document unknown to reader -2
Type of document somewhat known to reader +0
Type of document well known to reader +2
Handwriting not known to reader -2
Handwriting somewhat known to reader +0
Handwriting intimately known to reader +2
Reader only casually reviews the document -2



Deception requires writing materials appropriate to the document being forged, enough light or sufficient visual acuity to see the details of what you’re writing, wax for seals (if appropriate), and some time. To forge a document on which the handwriting is not specific to a person (military orders, a government decree, a business ledger, or the like), you need only to have seen a similar document before, and you gain a +8 bonus on your check. To forge a signature, you need an autograph of that person to copy, and you gain a +4 bonus on the check. To forge a longer document written in the hand of some particular person, a large sample of that person’s handwriting is needed.

The Deception check is made secretly, so that you’re not sure how good your forgery is. As with Disguise, you don’t even need to make a check until someone examines the work. Your Deception check is opposed by the Deception check of the person who examines the document to check its authenticity. The examiner gains modifiers on his or her check if any of the conditions on the table below exist.

A document that contradicts procedure, orders, or previous knowledge, or one that requires sacrifice on the part of the person checking the document can increase that character’s suspicion (and thus create favorable circumstances for the checker’s opposing Deception check).


Forging a very short and simple document takes about 1 minute. A longer or more complex document takes 1d4 minutes per page.

Try Again

Usually, no. A retry is never possible after a particular reader detects a particular forgery. But the document created by the forger might still fool someone else. The result of a Deception check for a particular document must be used for every instance of a different reader examining the document. No reader can attempt to detect a particular forgery more than once; if that one opposed check goes in favor of the forger, then the reader can’t try using his own skill again, even if he’s suspicious about the document.


Forgery is language-dependent; thus, to forge documents and detect forgeries, you must be able to read and write the language in question. A barbarian can’t use the Deception skill for forgery unless he has learned to read and write.

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