All-Seeing Owl: Max Perception & Investigation (5e Optimized Character Build)

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Perception is arguably the best skill in D&D 5e and this build guide helps players maximize their potential to have the highest Perception score they can. You may find there are other paths to accomplish this, please add to the guide so players know their options. This article was written using only core rules and no magic items.

Ability Score[edit]

This build you're going to want to get a high wisdom, intelligence and dexterity. This will make sense later on.

Standard Array Str 10 Dex 15 Con 12 Int 13 Wis 14 Cha 8

  • Sets you up to take an Intelligence based feat.
  • Lets you have 1 dexterity and wisdom.

Point Buy Str 8 Dex 15 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 14 Cha 8

  • After racial bonuses you'll have 16 in two important stats: Dexterity and Wisdom.
  • Also very prepared for maximizing your intelligence later on.


Human (variant):

  • This race lets you take the Observant Feat, massively boosting your passive Perception and Investigation. Also increases your Wisdom by 1.
  • By increasing your Dexterity and Wisdom by 1, you can have 16 in a primary combat stat and your Wisdom.
  • You can take proficiency in Perception for free as well with this feat.

Human (Mark of Finding:

  • This race lets you increase your Wisdom by 2 and your Constitution by 1.
  • You can add a d4 to any perception or survival checks you make.


  • Any race with an increase to wisdom and dexterity is a valid option.
  • They are all weaker then Humans since they can't take the observant feat, but not so much that you can't make it work if you want to.
  • Just take the Observant feat at level 4 and start the game with 15 Wisdom so it gets to an even 16.


Rogue: This is the fastest way to get your high passive Perception and Investigation

  • Take Perception and Investigation as your level 1 expertise to never miss anything ever again.
  • At level 6 you gain 2 additional expertise, things that can be used for your subclass or general utility.
  • If you want to stick to only using the PHB material, your subclass is most likely going to be an Arcane Trickster, taking advantage of your high intelligence. If you want to expand beyond it, Scout, Master Mind, and Inquisitive are all amazing thematically and mechanically for a character like this.

Bard: This is the second fastest way to get your super high passive perception.

  • Your going to need to rearrange your stats, swapping your charisma and Dexterity scores.
  • This version is truely the Social master, having increadibly high intelligence, wisdom, and charisma.


This leveing guide assumes you are choosing Rogue, we will just focus on ASI as though you were a pure class.

  • Level 4 Wisdom to 18
  • Level 8 Wisdom to 20
  • Level 10 Dexterity to 18
  • Level 12 Intelligence to 16
  • Level 16 Intelligence to 18
  • Level 19 Intelligence to 20

As a rogue, you are less dependent on your Attack modifier than nearly any other class. Focused on gaining advantage and dealing damage with Sneak Attack, a +1 to attack rolls is not very much for them. You can comfortably leave your dexterity at 18 as a result and maximize your two observation stats instead! This array works as long as your taking 12 levels in Rogue, so you have 8 levels to multiclass if you wish.


A wonderful contributer added the table for your wisdom. Your Passive Investigation will usually be 1-3 points behind your passive Perception until the late game. Also want to include that if you choose, you can swap your Observant and Racial bonus to intelligence if your an arcane trickster. Investigation is generally less common, but might be mechanically what you choose if you want to max your Intelligence first.

Table: Total Passive Perception
Level Base Passive Score Observant Wisdom Expertise Total
1 10 +5 +3 +4 =+22
4 10 +5 +4 +4 =+23
5 10 +5 +4 +6 =+25
8 10 +5 +5 +6 =+26
9 10 +5 +5 +8 =+28
13 10 +5 +5 +10 =+30
17 10 +5 +5 +12 =+32

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