D&D 5E How is Acrobatics used in your game?


I’ve noticed in our games that Acrobatics doesn’t seem to get used much. I know it can be used to escape or avoid grapples and similar effects, and that there’s the DMG tumble action. I’m interested in creative ways that players (or DMs) have used this skill—or even just obvious ways to use it that I’m not seeing.

One thing that seems to me to be an issue is that a lot of “cinematic” maneuvers really fall at least partly under Athletics, e.g., jumping, and a character with great Acrobatics might not be so great at Athletics, or at least not good enough to take advantage of Acrobatics.

Tell me your Acrobatics stories!


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Magic Wordsmith
Chiefly this comes up in my games for grappling as you say, but also a fair bit when the PCs jump into difficult terrain (see PHB, page 182). The only other time I really see it is if I include a terrain feature that requires balancing, such as a narrow beam or the like between two raised areas.

Basically, include the appropriate terrain in your challenges and it will come up more often.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
At my table, Acrobatics is used defensively (grapples, etc) more than Athletics. Just because only a minority of characters have a STR higher than DEX.

Many tasks can be described and are valid with their athletics or acrobatics. Tumbling down a slope (acrobatics) vs. climbing down it (athletics). Handsprings across a number of small gaps instead of jump checks. Yes, there are some that are only one way or the other, but in general player creativity makes them often able to be interchangeable.


To be totally honest, I haven't even memorized the skill list for 5E, and I've been GMing it since the Basic Set came out (before the PHB). After 35 years of playing games, I just throw out a potential skill name and let the players pick one close to it. So long as it makes sense, it's all good. I'm very, very much a fan of the idea that the brutish barbarian uses Athletics to hoist himself over the wall while the lithe duelist uses Acrobatics to nimbly bounce up a couple of broken stones and handspring over the same wall.

Now, if they narrate their attempt out-of-sync with the skill or it feels like the specific skill is close, but not quite right, I might assign a penalty to it. Otherwise, I also don't have a problem if someone uses History vs Religion to try to figure out the mortal name for the Lich King of Solas or use Persuasion vs Investigate because they're working the room rather than making subtle observations to figure out who the spy is. YMMV.

For the last couple of campaigns, I haven't seen much use of either Athletics or Acrobatics, really. But... That's because the physical type characters have been a samurai-style paladin, a monk who somehow always avoided terrain, and a war cleric. I'm expecting a bit more from the shifter barbarian and the assassin with the Mark of Shadow -- hopefully, showcasing both sides of the proposition.


I always see Parkour as probably more Athletics than Acrobatics. Climbing and jumping take Strength. It says so in the books. So when someone says I parkour up that wall and the DM allows them to roll Acrobatics it just makes Dex even stronger (no pun intended) and takes even more away from the Strength PC's.

Apart from the Parkour references and the odd escape a grapple, I don't remember seeing it used.


Other than grapples, they get to use it for climbing in some circumstances and for moving quickly over obstacles instead of slowly or going around - again, some cases.

But a lot will depend on your setting. A lot of bar fights and open area with movement and terrain - it will see more use than if you feature more frequently ye olde 10x10 corridor line fines in formation.

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