How about a new skill that allows the detection of creature/NPC activity without having to spot them?
The way I picture it should work is by pressing the “detect/track” button and choose a direction. It would require you to invest a number of turns and then it would give you a message, like for instance:
-You don’t notice anything in that location. (No enemy presence or Low Skill)
-You suddenly hear the howling of a wolf. (Wolf nearby)
-You find some bear tracks on the ground. (Bear nearby)
-You can feel the unmistakable smell of rotten corpses. (Two or more zombies)
-You feel something is watching you. (Low Skill or Being tracked down or nether monster nearby)
It could be useful in forests, urban areas, underground locations, night time and other places or conditions where visibility is limited. Also, it could give you vague or wrong messages at low skill and the better you get at it, the better the detection range and accuracy of the messages.
I think a skill like Observing in DF would make more sense. Just giving more information on the ‘‘x’’ instead tracking that isn’t necessary to hunt right now(animal behavior)
introducing zombies able to track however makes things different. You would need to cover your tracks. if natural life AI is changed tracking could be awesome.
It’s not a tracking skill, though. It just tells you what lies beyond based on skill lvl. Those examples I gave might look like something from that kind of skill but this one works differently.
I thought about suggesting an actual tracking skill but animals/NPCs/Monsters only seem to move when the player is around. Even fire works that way too. The reasons you mentioned are also why I didn’t suggest that skill.
Getting more information on the target could also be related to Detection, too. Observing could be part of the abilities used in Detection.
You could slap it onto survival at 3-level intervals, so there’s a use beyond 6-7.
This actually makes sense too. Survival could use this extra functionality and it would save space in the skill list.