Guard Duty

If you have ever worked a boring job, you know the monotonous mental fortitude that’s required to keep yourself on-task. Few occupations are more boring than guard duty and it can be expected that any seasoned member of security that isn’t currently on alert or being actively monitored by a supervisor will begin to drift into inattentiveness. Adventurers who are trying to slip past such distracted defenders may be watching for these lapses. To help adjudicate such surveillance situations, I have created a random table that you can use to see exactly what your witless wardens are up to when they start to slack.


How to Use This Table

When a character first observes the stationary guard or guards in question, roll randomly on the chart to see what they are doing at that particular moment. If the PC is able to wait unobserved by the guard, their behavior may change over time. Roll again every 20 minutes (3 times per hour) to determine a new behavior. Any plus or minus to the percentile role granted by the behavior only applies to the next roll – it is not cumulative. As long as no outside influence interrupts the guard, they will continue in this fashion until they are relieved of duty, their shift ends, or they go AWOL (Away Without Leave).

      d% Roll           GUARD BEHAVIOR

  • 1-5     HIGH ALERT – The guard is actively searching for danger and will behave in a paranoid manner, calling for assistance or investigating the slightest provocation. Next roll: -70%.
  • 6-22     ALERT – The guard is aware of his surroundings and is ready for action. Next roll: -40%.
  • 23-34     SORE – The guard takes 1d4 rounds (or about 15 seconds) to stretch, temporarily taking his attention off his duties. He may suffer a minor penalty to some checks, depending on what his adversaries do (e.g. -2 to a skill check). Next roll: -15%.
  • 35-45     PATROL – The guard decides to move from his stationary post and patrol the nearby area (never more than one minute’s travel-time away). Next roll: -25%.
  • 46-55     DISTRACTED – The guard’s attention is diverted for 1d4 minutes by something close by, like an insect, a noise, or reading material and he suffers a minor penalty (e.g. -2 to a skill check). Next roll: -10%.
  • 56-64     BORED – The guard is uninterested in his duty and suffers a moderate penalty to any related observation checks (e.g. Disadvantage, -5 to a skill check, etc.). Next roll: +5%.
  • 65-72     SINGING / HUMMING – The guard begins to sing or hum to pass the time and automatically fails any checks required to listen to someone doing something stealthily. Next roll: +5%.
  • 73-79     WEAPONS CHECK – The guard takes time to examine their equipment, perform routine maintenance, or make minor repairs. Depending on the nature of the gear, this may mean that whatever they’re working on is unusable for 1d8 minutes. Additionally, they are DISTRACTED by this activity. Next roll: -10%.
  • 80-85     QUICK BREAK – The guard leaves his post for 1d4 minutes to go to either relieve himself, obtain food or water, or perform some simple task (never more than one minute’s travel-time away). Next roll: -15%.
  • 86-90     LONG BREAK – The guard leaves his post for 6d6 minutes, but will ask another guard to cover his post if one is available. The replacement guard arrives 1d4 minutes after the original guard departs. Next roll: -25%.
  • 91-94     SECRET PROJECT – The guard has come up with a way to alleviate the boredom that diverts all of their visual attention. This may be anything from a sketchbook to a hand-carved flute to a video game. They will still be listening so they don’t get caught by their employer, but they automatically fail any checks required to see someone doing something stealthily. Next roll: -15%.
  • 95-97     LIGHT SLEEP – The guard’s eyes are shut and they suffer the same effects as being BORED, but they can still be awakened by nearby movement, touch, odors, or unexpected noises. Next roll: -10%.
  • 98-99     DEEP SLEEP – The guard is asleep and will only be woken by a firm touch, strong smell, or a loud noise. Next roll: -25%.
  • 100     AWOL – The guard abandons his post completely for up to 1d4 hours or until his expected end-of-shift. He does not try to find a replacement.


Generally speaking, anything that makes a guard more alert lowers the percentile roll. Anything that makes them less alert or more bored raises it. Here are some examples:

  • ~ A supervisor/employer within sight          -75%
  • ~ Distant, unexplained sights or sounds      -50%
  • ~ Another guard on duty within sight          -20% per guard
  • ~ A “civilian” or other friendly, non-combatant within sight          -3% per person, max -30%
  • ~ Loud, continuous noise (construction, traffic, etc.)          -20%
  • ~ Aggressive music          -15%
  • ~ Potent stench                -12%
  • ~ Bright lights                  -10%
  • ~ Caffeine or other stimulant (lasts 1 hour)          -10%
  • ~ Dim lighting                 +5%
  • ~ Pleasant aroma            +8%
  • ~ Soothing music            +10%
  • ~ Continuous white noise (static, gentle rain, waterfall, clock-ticking, etc.)                      +12%
  • ~ Repetitive pattern (ceiling fan, rocking ship, ocean waves, etc.)                      +12%


Other conditions that might affect a guard’s abilities: adverse weather or temperature, cumulative lack of rest, drunkenness, illness, hunger, or poor treatment. Smart PC’s will try to covertly increase these penalties before the guard even gets into uniform for his shift.


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