Adjudicating Unusual Actions

Mistwell

Hero
We all know how to adjudicate "I hit it with my sword" or "I cast magic missile at it". But as a RPG, as opposed to a computer game, players are expected to do all sorts of creative things which are not specifically covered by a rule.

I think this is a strength of a good RPG, not a weakness. I don't want an RPG to cover every conceivable action the players can imagine, as that's both an impossible task and asking for a tomb of rules so dense that mastering the rules takes over a major part of the game itself.

Instead, a good set of rules provides numerous examples and tools to help a DM adjudicate different kinds of situations, and lets the DM make the call in the moment on how to handle it. I think 5e does this well.

So in this thread I wanted to explore some different scenarios which are just not covered directly by the rules, but which in the moment a player might try to do. And, which a good DM would let them try. I am wondering how you would rule each scenario.

I'll throw out the first one, but do please feel free to throw out your own.

You're the DM. How would you rule on this: The Mummy, Chair Throw

 

jgsugden

Adventurer
Improvised weapon rules.

Alterntively, I let players make a normal attack and 'reskin' it to something else. For example, in a scenario where a PC runs up to the only enemy and fells it in oe blow with their weapon, they might say that rather than un across the room and attack, they just picked up a chair, flung it across the room and took the enemy down.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It depends on the player’s goal, are they trying to harm the target with the chair attack, or knock the target prone? I get the sense from the clip that it was the latter in Brendan’s case. If so, I’d rule it as a ranged shove. If they are trying to cause actual damage, I’d treat it as an improvised ranged weapon attack. 1d4 bludgeoning if thrown one-handed like Brendan did, or 1d6 bludgeoning two-handed. Range 20/60.
 
I can see 4 possible outcomes.

1. The chair throw hurts the target and knocks prone
2. The chair through knock the target prone
3. The chair throw hurts the target
4. The chair throw does nothing.

Decide on a way to map these outcomes to the d20 mechanic and you have the solution

Examples: roll a d20 for damage and a d20 for prone. Roll 1 d20 and use degrees of success. Etc.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
That wasn't Knocked Prone. That was the opponent reaching zero hit points. Brendan obviously rolled a 20.

Although I would call that opposing Physical contests, Brendan using a Fight skill and the coward using Movement (running away). And Brendan would also take a -4 penalty, because that chair looked awkward (but light).

How about this one?
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Straightforward:

Ranged improvised weapon, dealing 1d4 + Strength damage versus AC (including Dexterity)

Opponent reduced to 0 hit points, and is unconscious (or stunned).

Fraser intentionally made it a nonlethal attack. Thus there are no death saves.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
No spoon... yea, that is a metaphysical aspect to the setting that, imo, does not occur in DnD. So yea, I would have to ask my player how they wish to do that? If I'm not playing with psionics (and I don't) I can't see a way to do it.

If you're playing with psionics, then ... prestidigitation?
 

Celebrim

Legend
Improvised ranged trip attack.

Much harder to do successfully than the movie makes it seem, but we can assume that the PC is high enough level to be justified in his swagger and that the target is just a mook. Roll to hit followed by some sort of opposed contest of fighting skill of some sort, with penalties because of the improvised nature of the attack. I'd probably throw in some small amount of damage (1d3 + STR bonus in a D20 system).

Related threads:


 

Celebrim

Legend
How about this one?
Depends entirely on whether the child is making a factual observation.

If this is a factual observation, then the world is one where there is a skill - or possibly more than one skill - of bending reality to your will which is accessible to everyone once they are aware. In that case, this is just a simple skill check against a simple target DC.

If this is not a factual observation, but the spoon really can be bent by Neo, then this is a world with magic of some sort and there are people with sorcerous talent. In that case, the intent of the scene could be just to reveal to Neo's player that he can level up (however it is done in the system) in this sorcerous ability.

But there are additional possibilities. It could be that Neo did not really bend the spoon at all, and that either Neo is hallucinating - there isn't even a child in the room he's speaking with - or else that the child is actually deluding Neo into believing he's the one doing the bending or how it is done. In that case, Neo simply has false to facts understanding of the situation.
 

Celebrim

Legend
How about this one:

Improvised ranged touch attack. Provokes reflex save in target, on failure, blinded for one round and dazzled for 1d4 rounds. On success, dazzled for 1 round only. Some systems may have an explicitly built in 'Dirty Fighting' system, in which case this isn't even necessarily something you need to improvise - especially as, if is likely, the character has some sort of 'Improved Dirty Fighting' feat.
 

Mistwell

Hero
Improvised weapon attack versus target's AC. On a hit, the target has disadvantage on its next attack roll. (Again, assuming that outcome was the player's stated goal.)
That's just the help action, which already does more than that as you don't even have to hit. Sure looks like temporary blindness to me, which would last more than just their next attack.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
That wasn't Knocked Prone. That was the opponent reaching zero hit points. Brendan obviously rolled a 20.

Although I would call that opposing Physical contests, Brendan using a Fight skill and the coward using Movement (running away). And Brendan would also take a -4 penalty, because that chair looked awkward (but light).

How about this one?
Uhhh in the chair, wasnt the last bit before cut the target rolling over still moving? It did not seem to me to be a ko at zero hp but maybe is the scene had continued we would know more.

For the spoon scene, not sure what you want mechanically represented. It seems like either a training for sorcery scene, an illusion or a setting specific feature.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
That's just the help action, which already does more than that as you don't even have to hit. Sure looks like temporary blindness to me, which would last more than just their next attack.
The problem is adjudicating the mechanics without the outcome when the video stops before we see what happens.

That sand in face could be the disengage action allowing enough of a pause for us to move away without AO. We font know if the target suddenly could not see anyone else or where thinfsxwere, or just saw fuzzy for the blink of an eye. Was it enough time in xcrnr for others to attack?Etc.

I think - with chair too - there is a mix-up between fx and redults and trying to match mechanics up to the FX without the outcome.

To me, chair = improvised weapon/scenery for ranged shove and sand (if I know Dale) was just disengage action, setting up his run away. Spoon was perhaps a successful learning check but most likely just a fluff scene in a training montage.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I've done similar things in home campaigns. We did improvised shove attack at disadvantage. I'd let someone also use various thrown weapons like hammers or even spears thrown "sideways" to hit the legs spinning.
 

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