5E, Acrobatics, and Parkour
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  1. #1
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    5E, Acrobatics, and Parkour

    Has anyone created any guidelines for Parkour in 5e? I've got a bunch of roguish players (not all actual rogues) with high dexteritys, low strengths, and a fear of walls, climbing, etc

    I've been kind of winging it to this point but am thinking of trying to come up with a set of guidelines to allow them to use Acrobatics to parkour through some issues - parkouring up walls in narrow alleys, wall-running to get around pit traps or to reach ledges, etc. The equivalent of how a PC can automatically jump a number of feet equal to their STR score, for example.

    I blame it on playing too much Tomb Raider recently.

    Before I start inventing these myself, I thought I'd see what others have come up with. Has anyone got anything like that?
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    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)



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    5E, Acrobatics, and Parkour

    Im pretty loose about what constitutes difficult terrain. To me, swinging from the chandelier for 15 feet is just the Characters movement.
    Edit: mostly I try to gate as few actions behind die rolls as I can.

  3. #3
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    The acrobatics skill covers most of what you want to do. Just don't be tempted to just replace Athletics with Acrobatics to keep a bunch of STR dump players happy. It might be easier to just write up some maneuvers and give them a DC and base stat, with some DEX and some STR.

    I'm currently keen on mix and match stat bonuses for edge case skill tests. One way to more adequately model parkour would be to allow up to +2 each from STR and DEX and call it it's own skill (with a +5 total possible if either stat is a 20), covering whatever maneuvers you care to write up. Or don't call it a skill and just use the mixed bonuses plus proficiency if the character has it in either Athletics or Acrobatics.
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    If you use feats, I would tell them to take Mobility and Expertise in Athletics. Mobility will remove the difficult terrain and add 10 feet of movement, allowing them to cover distances better.

    Either way, while Strength is important to parkour, Dexterity is more important IMO. Agility, reflexes, and balance are all paramount. Strength is important and lower strength could make it harder, but that isn't how skills work in 5E. I would make the check a Dexterity (Athletics) check and set the DC according to the maneuver they are trying to accomplish.
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    You could also create a new "Parkour" skill that covers both acrobatics and athletics. If the players want to climb walls (where there's some cost of failure, of course) I would ask for Strength check (to which they could add their proficiency bonus if they have the Parkour skill). As for leaping down, I would ask for a Dexterity check (to which they can add their proficiency bonus if they're skilled in Parkour once again).

    I don't think it would break anything (and of course if Parkour is popular then baddies could also gain that skill) and it might encourage them to think about approaching challenges in Parkour ways.

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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    Not that it necessarily matters in a 5E skills context, but weak people can't do parkour, just like clumsy people can't. As an endeavor it's pretty neatly balanced right between STR and DEX. Mind you so, for the most part, is real life Acrobatics and that's a straight dex skill, so YMMV. Also, I think DEX has enough toys already that it doesn't need another really cool one.

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    "Parkour" could be imagined as an overarching challenge that is divided into specific obstacles, the declared tasks for which may or may not call for ability checks as per the normal rules for adjudicating actions. Strength (Athletics) checks covers "difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping..." (Basic Rules, p. 62). Dexterity (Acrobatics) covers attempts to "stay on your feet in a tricky situation..." (Basic Rules, p. 63). As always, only the DM calls for checks after the player declares an action that has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure.

    So, in a rooftop chase or tricky exploration of a section of a dungeon (for example), you present a "parkour exploration challenge." That challenge has a set number of obstacles (say, 3 to 5) that are individually presented to the players via the DM describing the environment and asking "What do you do?" Examples might include a sheer wall with few handholds, a narrow beam connecting two rooftops, a low fence or barrier with sharp protrusions, etc. The players will describe how they try to get past it at which point you can decide if an ability check is required according to the rules for adjudicating actions. When the "parkour exploration challenge" is complete, you can assess the overall success or failure of the PCs based on how they managed the individual obstacles and narrate accordingly.

    This sits within the existing rules set and does not require any house rules or the like.
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    DEX has enough already without folding more aspects of the only STR skill under it.

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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    Mixing and matching Abilities and Skills helps.
    Strength (Acrobatics) to get up to a roof by bouncing between two walls or a corner, Dex (Athletics) to run across the sloped roof, Strength(Athletics) to leap from that roof to another across the street, and Dex(Acrobatics) to land in a roll that uses less of your movement. Then Constitution to keep going.

    Generally Parkour is going to be in a competitive or race situation, so it allows you the opportunity of several different checks in a round-by-round format.

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    Seems like a classic use of Acrobatics. Id allow bypassing reasonable obstacles at full speed of a distance equal to the same distances as long jumps and high jumps, but with Dex as the base stat.

    I also allow Acrobatics checks to ignore difficult terrain entirely, usually DC 15.

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