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5E, Acrobatics, and Parkour

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Keep in mind that 5E presents checks as ability checks, not skill checks. So what you're actually supposed to be doing is saying "What ability works here? Strength or Dexterity?" then ask "Is a character Proficient in X and would it apply?"

This allows you figure out what any character can do, and the those that are proficient are better at that thing. Works for any skill.
Very much this. When in doubt, look at what the PHB says under “using each ability.” On the subject of Strength, it says:
Strength measures bodily power, athletic Training, and the extent to which you can exert raw physical force (...) A Strength check can model any attempt to lift, push, pull, or break something, to force your body through a space, or to otherwise apply brute force to a situation.

And on the subject of Dexterity, it says:
Dexterity measures agility, reflexes, and balance. (...) A Dexterity check can model any attempt to move nimbly, quickly, or quietly, or to keep from Falling on tricky footing.

It’s also worth noting that in 5e, characters can climb at half their speed and jump a specified distance based on their Strength score without need for a roll, provided there aren’t complicating factors that would make the outcome uncertain and risky. So, the majority of parkour activities probably don’t need a roll. When a particular parkour-related action does have an uncertain outcome and consequences for failure, which ability it is most appropriate to call for a check with will depend on the specific circumstances. If they need to keep balance or move quickly or nimbly to succeed, Dexterity. If they need to apply a lot of direct physical force to succeed, Strength. In either case, if the character is Proficient in Athletics, they can add their proficiency bonus if the task involves climbing, jumping, or swimming. If they’re proficient in Acrobatics, they can add their proficiency bonus if the task involves trying to stay on their feet, or to dive, roll, somersault, or flip.

Personally, I think the majority of parkour-related actions that require a roll to resolve, e.g. Prince of Persia style wall running between the moving saw blades would be Dexterity (moving quickly/agilely) plus Athletics (Running/climbing/jumping). But it will always depend on the particulars of the action. What’s the source of danger, what is the character doing to try to overcome it, why is the outcome uncertain, and what do they need to perform well at to be successful in the face of that uncertainty?
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Not sure parkour is the kind of ability i see as necessarily requiring a skill roll. I mean I see hero class parkour as climbing speed virtually unimpaired and overcoming speed impairment due to terrain.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
For climbing, I allow Dexterity (Acrobatics) to totally replace Strength (Athletics) if you can get a running start.

So if it's a wall you could climb up in one round, get the running start and use your Dexterity (Acrobatics). You don't need as much Strength because your momentum is carrying you. But if the wall takes 2+ rounds to climb, then you can acro up the first round, but on those subsequent rounds you will need to use Strength (Athletics) because you can't really get a running start while clinging to a wall.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
Let players tell you what skill they wish to use (and ability score) and then set the DC based upon what they want to do.

A PC wants to scale a 10 foot wall quickly. That might take a DC 15 Athletics (Strength) check, or a DC 20 Acrobatics (Dexterity) check if they wish to use Parkour style bouncing back and forth off of nearby obstacles to get up.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I just don’t stress it, and simply work with the player expectations of what a Dextrous character trained in Acrobatics should be able to do. If they took Acrobatics as a Dex character specifically because they imagined their character doing these sorts of things, I’m not going to screw with them on it.

I dont care if Strength has as much to do as Dex in the game. IMO, it doesn’t matter at all. Charisma is more broadly useful than Int, too. So what?

If you want to push, pull, lift, break things down, etc, that is exclusively Strength.

Mid you want to jump or climb with no check, that’s gonna use your Strength score. If you want to increase the speed/distance, it depends on how you approach such activities.

also, checks in 5e should be simple. Wall running is primarily about balance and speed. Acrobatics. Clearing obstacles at speed is primarily about coordination, timing, balance, and ability to aim your body. Acrobatics.

But if a strong character wants to do those things, I’m fine with that. Athletics assumes some amount of coordination and balance, just as acrobatics assumes some amount of strength. I’m not going to require someone make checks with both to do something that falls into the overlap between them. I’m just going to get a idea of their approach, and if it makes some sense, they can pick which one to use.
 
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Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
also, checks in 5e should be simple. Wall running is primarily about balance and speed. Acrobatics. Clearing obstacles at speed is primarily about coordination, timing, balance, and ability to aim your body. Acrobatics.
So, its about Dexterity, since you make a Dexterity check and then add proficiency with Acrobatics, or any other skill you as DM feel applies. So you can do Dexterity (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Dexterity (Investigation). Not that Investigation has much to do with jumping over things, but it is possible to use that combination.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
So, its about Dexterity, since you make a Dexterity check and then add proficiency with Acrobatics, or any other skill you as DM feel applies. So you can do Dexterity (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Dexterity (Investigation). Not that Investigation has much to do with jumping over things, but it is possible to use that combination.
I usually go the other way, where a check of various kinds might apply the Acrobatics proficiency, but sometimes I might instead allow something like Investigation to apply to a specific Dexterity check.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I usually go the other way, where a check of various kinds might apply the Acrobatics proficiency, but sometimes I might instead allow something like Investigation to apply to a specific Dexterity check.
I think in real life spending time analyzing a path and estimating distances is a precursor to parkour
 

Xeviat

Explorer
For Parkour, in D&D 5e, you must have extremely high Strength.

There is no other way.

As is, Rogues suck at Parkour.

Acrobatics is pointless.

Parkour = Athletics. Run, jump, climb.


Fighters do it better.

Medium and heavy armor should apply disadvantage to athletics just like stealth.
 

Wrathamon

Explorer
For Parkour, in D&D 5e, you must have extremely high Strength.

There is no other way.

As is, Rogues suck at Parkour.

Acrobatics is pointless.

Parkour = Athletics. Run, jump, climb.


Fighters do it better.
except for thief and monk
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Medium and heavy armor should apply disadvantage to athletics just like stealth.
I have watched a video of a guy in plate armor outrunning a soldier in modern gear over an obstacle course. Plate armor was also easier to move in than chain. Easier to ride in than leather because the horse could carry all the weight and generally speaking a technological jump.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Medium and heavy armor should apply disadvantage to athletics just like stealth.
We had this rule for a while, and also to acrobatics for disadvantage.

I have watched a video of a guy in plate armor outrunning a soldier in modern gear over an obstacle course. Plate armor was also easier to move in than chain. Easier to ride in than leather because the horse could carry all the weight and generally speaking a technological jump.
However, after seeing how actual armor was made, worn, and works, we removed the disadvantage to acrobatics and athletics. Stealth makes more sense in two ways: 1) the metal armor is more difficult to move in quietly and 2) it is reflective to any light sources.

Now, with medium armors you could easily make the same arguments and some have disadvantage, but I would think more before applying disadvantage to athletics or anything else.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
However, after seeing how actual armor was made, worn, and works, we removed the disadvantage to acrobatics and athletics.
William Le Marshal was described as climbing castle walls in his 50s or 60s in plate armor... admittedly the primordial Warlord was a bit of real life superhero and that might have been slightly exaggerated. ;)
Now, with medium armors you could easily make the same arguments and some have disadvantage, but I would think more before applying disadvantage to athletics or anything else.
A part of me wants to encourage even what might realistically be inferior armor... so that heros have their own style. The naked chested beefcake getting a strength bonus to his light amor might be part of a berserk feat.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
William Le Marshal was described as climbing castle walls in his 50s or 60s in plate armor... admittedly the primordial Warlord was a bit of real life superhero and that might have been slightly exaggerated. ;)

A part of me wants to encourage even what might realistically be inferior armor... so that heros have their own style. The naked chested beefcake getting a strength bonus to his light amor might be part of a berserk feat.
I should note that if a character fails the Strength requirement for wearing an armor, the disadvantage to acrobatics and athletics applies.
 

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