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

Thanks for all of the helpful replies. I think one reason this bothered me was that Acrobatics really wasn’t very good for...acrobatics. I mean, a lot of that involves jumping before you get to the balancing and tumbling. I’m also thinking of the super-agile, bounce-off-all-the-walls rogue or assassin type. (The Moon Shadow Elves in The Dragon Prince are an example.) They would seem to be more likely to have Acrobatics than Athletics, but technically all the jumping is Athletics.

Why can't they be good at both?
 

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jgsugden

Legend
In my view, I use Strength (Athletics) to run across a beam (as if ‘climb’), for the same reason I use Strength (Athletics) to aim a sword or throw something heavy.
I think it depends upon how you see the definition of athletics. For example, some people call acrobats athletes.
Athletics necessarily includes gross motor skills, body coordination, and physical stunts such as jumping.
I disagree. It think it depends upon where you draw your lines.

For me, athletics and strength is to be used when you can muscle a solution. Acrobatics and dexterity are to be used when finesse is required. Many solutions can be addressed by either. However, some problems require one solution or the other. Basically, it is up to the players to explain how the PC uses their skill to solve a problem, so it really comes down to their description.

It seems to me, the early 1e decision to link Dexterity to balance screwed up all of the ability scores ever since. People who are master archers, who stand still and aim carefully, are never necessarily master gymnasts.
No, that would be covered by their proficiency, not their basic ability score.

And each of these skills is a massive simlification. Intelligence (history) is a skill. You roll it for checking your knowledge of any type of history. However, in the real world, there are a lot of people that know a lot about US history, but nothing about Spanish history.

I once tried to add depth to the skill system by giving people 'specializations' in certain uses of skills. For example, you might have bonuses on strength checks using upper body strength, or history checks for local history. It just became too much to manage and we went simpler. That was in an eearlier edition, but WotC followed my approach with 5E - keep it simple.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Why can't they be good at both?

Because investing in TWO ability scores to achieve ONE thematic stunt ability, is too much opportunity cost. It is MADness.



Also, the difficulty is with the ability scores themselves, where there is too much sloppy overlap between ‘Athletics’ and ‘Acrobatics’, ‘Jumping’ and ‘Falling’, ‘Jumping’ and ‘Tumbling’, ‘Climbing’ and ‘Catching a Fall’, ‘Pulling up ones own weight’ and ‘Catching ones fall’, ‘Grappling’ and ‘Grappling’.

These differences without distinction are two sides of the same coin. One concept deserves one number.

Similarly, there is too much sloppy overlap between ‘Perception’ and ‘Investigation’. They work better as a single concept and a single number.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
When I look at reallife acrobats − every single stunt that they do requires Strength − and they show it. They are buff!

Same goes for Olympic gymnasts who are actual ‘tumblers’. They are strong. And built more muscular than anyone else.
 

Oofta

Legend
Let's take a simple scenario, jumping across a gap. Your strength typically says how far you can jump.

If the gap is longer than you could normally jump or you don't have that 10 ft head start, we need to start using skills, but I'm pretty flexible.

You could use an athletics check to jump further, or if you land just short to grab onto the ledge and pull yourself up.

If there a branches overhead or a dead giant you could use a launching point I'd allow you to use acrobatics to increase your jump distance.

Perception might be used to notice handholds everyone else is missing.

Intelligence might let you devise a clever plan like using a nearby sapling as a catapult.

A charisma check to convince the NPC barbarian to carry you on his shoulders.

So it just depends on the situation and what my players can justify. I do limit acrobatics at times though. If there is no chandelier to swing from or a beam to vault off of then they may be SOL. Sometimes brute strength is the only thing that matters. For example, on a ship adventure, the acrobat was swinging from the sails, walking the yard arm, etc. Then he got knocked into the water but managed to grab on to a trailing rope. However, I ruled that since the boat was moving through the water quickly and the water was choppy he needed an athletics check to pull himself out of the water. Some things just can't be finessed.
 

DEX\Acrobatics was used last night.

The party were fleeing from a house they had just robbed of a ceremonial greatsword. The character carrying it had just been caught up by the guards and in his attempt to break free, he dropped the sword!

Another character was waiting on a roof, using wings of flying, keeping an eye on what was going on. The player said "I swoop down and grab the sword!" There was a bit of discussion, but in the end we decided the ability check had to be DEX and Acrobatics was applicable.

It succeeded! The party regained the sword and fled the scene of the heist. There was much rejoicing.

Free plug for Jimmy Merritt's Here's To Crime: A Guide to Capers and Heists, based on the game Blades in the Dark. It was a blast!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
When I look at reallife acrobats − every single stunt that they do requires Strength − and they show it. They are buff!

Same goes for Olympic gymnasts who are actual ‘tumblers’. They are strong. And built more muscular than anyone else.
And football linemen are agile, so what? In dnd they have higher strength and are unlikely to take acrobatics, while a gymnast is going to have high dex and either take both or just take acrobatics.

‘Parkour’ − meaning jumping and climbing − is Strength (Athletics) checks.
No.

Heh, I hate to be so negative, but my personal experience with the socalled ‘Acrobatics’ skill has led me to despise the Acrobatics skill.

If you hate to be negative, just choose not to be negative.

If you want to jump out across that ravine and land on the ledge across the other side, you'd use your strength score(in feet) to determine if you can even reach the ledge first. If you can reach it, the DM might call for an acrobatics check to land the jump and keep from slipping off the ledge and falling into the ravine.

Yep, and since parkour and other forms of gymnastics movement are acrobatics, using the terrain to boost your jump distance can also be acrobatics.
 

And football linemen are agile, so what? In dnd they have higher strength and are unlikely to take acrobatics, while a gymnast is going to have high dex and either take both or just take acrobatics.
I think the point they were making is that real-life athletes/gymnasts and fighters don't take one and dump the other - they have high stats in both.


Most of Parkour may be running, jumping and climbing. - The purview of Athletics.
However a significant part is dropping back down from heights, which would be Acrobatics. Moving across unstable surfaces like slippery or heavily-sloping roofs and similar would also be acrobatics.

Again, in real-life people don't tend to minmax like D&D characters. In D&D there is clear separation in the rules. Less so in real-life.
 

It's hard to separate a lot of these activities.

I'm not a super-strong guy but I teach rock-climbing. There are football players way stronger than me, who could break me in two but can't pull themselves up on to the rock or do 1 finger chin-ups. But I wouldn't say I have proficiency in acrobatics. Maybe I'm low strength and high proficiency. It's all about muscle to weight ratio. Most gymnasts are built light and strong.

That kind of thing is not taken in to consideration in D&D except in backgrounds and flaws and general descriptions.

I'm playing a 16 strength dragonborn with proficiency in athletics. He's old and fat. He can block a doorway or shove an enemy with the best of them. When the DM asks me to make a climb check, I tell the DM 'No, he fails. He's too big and fat to climb.'

Actually, this post is kind of off-topic. I'd meant to make a point about acrobatics but now I forget what it was...
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think the point they were making is that real-life athletes/gymnasts and fighters don't take one and dump the other - they have high stats in both.
Sure, and if 5e was more generous with skills or with ability score points, it might make sense for acrobats and really any agile, quick, physical character, in DnD to always have both. But that isn’t how dnd does stuff.

Most of Parkour may be running, jumping and climbing. - The purview of Athletics.
However a significant part is dropping back down from heights, which would be Acrobatics. Moving across unstable surfaces like slippery or heavily-sloping roofs and similar would also be acrobatics.

Again, in real-life people don't tend to minmax like D&D characters. In D&D there is clear separation in the rules. Less so in real-life.

What matters, and IMO all that matters here, is how dnd works. In dnd an acrobatic fighter and parkourist doesn’t need to have high strength, bc in DnD dexterity stands on its own, as does Acrobatics.
 

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