The following rules are provided as an alternative to the existing perception skill system. These are optional and may provide slightly more flexibility to finding clues and spotting things in Dark Age. The existing rules use a skill called perception which is added to the knowledge skill base. The ref asks for a perception test and the player rolls against the total of their character's skill and skill base plus a D10.
At a basic level this works fine, but it really lacks direction and flavour. A person's awareness should not be dictated by their intelligence, other factors come into play and the perception skill should really be a collection of skills (hearing, smell, tracking, etc).
Instead of having a skill that fits all cases of noticing your environment, perception becomes a skill base in itself. Smart people know what to look for; good health means you're fairly alert and willpower stops you being distracted.
Perception skill base is an average of intelligence, willpower and health charcteristics
This skill base can be used with any existing skill where the powers of perception are more applicable. Good combinations of perception and a skill include:
Listen: How well a person hears and to what extent they can locate the source of the sound and what it might be. Useful against sneak rolls in some instances.
Visual: The degree of visual awareness a person has. Someone with a high rank would notice subtle changes of a person's appearance and would not overlook minor inconsistancies. Sherlock Holmes had this at +10.
Psychology: This is not a new skill but has been moved under the perception skill base. Psychology helps you find what a subject really means rather than what they say. It can still be used with the knowledge skill base to predict how a person might react.
Detect Lies: This skill won't let you know the evil machinactions of a person's true thoughts - but you will know when they are not telling the truth. All girlfriends and mothers have this at +6 :-)
Tracking: How to follow a person's or animal's trail. This skill is typically used in the wilds, but maybe of some use in the city (wasteland or scrubs particularly - tracking someone down the highstreet is frankly unlikely).
If you want your character to switch to the new system simply calculate their perception score and give them the listen and visual skills equal to their old perception skill rating.