Missing Rules

So, normally I like 5E's attitude toward letting the DM adjudicate things, but tonight I ran into a stumper.

We had an impromptu Fantasy grounds session (due to technical difficulties with another Roll20 game) and I quick purchased a module. In it there is a room with some hanging platforms, so we had to look up the jumping rules. Funny thing -- there aren't any. More precisely, there aren't any Athletics check rules regarding jumping. It says you can use athletics to jump a greater distance than is allowed in the movement rules, but gives no indication of how difficult that is or how far it would be.

I made a quick ruling and moved on, but it still baffled me. That just seems like the kind of thing you put in the Athletics skill section, even if it is a simple "If greater than the player's strength score, the athletics skill check indicates the distance of the character's running long jump (half from standing)" or something.

Now, the lack of that rule hardly seems worthy of a whole thread, so I open it up to the floor: what other rules are weirdly missing from 5E, in your opinion?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So, normally I like 5E's attitude toward letting the DM adjudicate things, but tonight I ran into a stumper.

We had an impromptu Fantasy grounds session (due to technical difficulties with another Roll20 game) and I quick purchased a module. In it there is a room with some hanging platforms, so we had to look up the jumping rules. Funny thing -- there aren't any. More precisely, there aren't any Athletics check rules regarding jumping. It says you can use athletics to jump a greater distance than is allowed in the movement rules, but gives no indication of how difficult that is or how far it would be.
Hmm, Index says:

Movement
. Jumping, 182, 190

Pg 182 has rules for long jump (how far you can jump) and high jump (including how high you can reach with your arms when you do it).

There are parts of the book I wish were organized better, this would make sense with Athletics, but it also makes sense with the rest of movement and it's listed in the index.
 
Hmm, Index says:

Movement
. Jumping, 182, 190

Pg 182 has rules for long jump (how far you can jump) and high jump (including how high you can reach with your arms when you do it).

There are parts of the book I wish were organized better, this would make sense with Athletics, but it also makes sense with the rest of movement and it's listed in the index.
Right but the description of Athletics says you can use the skill to jump unusually long distances but provides no guidelines on that use of the skill. That's the sort of thing I am talking about.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Right but the description of Athletics says you can use the skill to jump unusually long distances but provides no guidelines on that use of the skill. That's the sort of thing I am talking about.
note to be picky, but if you look thru the Using Each Ability you will find plenty of cases where they tell you what a skill can be used for without specifics on DC and as per the norm in the rules they leave it up to the Gm to assign a DC for specific circumstances.

The difference with Jump really is that it has *more* details than many of the others in that it is given a default minimum guarantee established in the other chapter not that it is less informed or detailed than the norm.

I would say that what is missing is a more normalized "minimum success based on stat rule" for many of the checks that are not opposed (difficulty by opponent) or combat linked - but they actually do that in the DMG with the options they provide there. As always subject to GM fiat but a default would be nice to start from.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The important part of the sentence you're referencing in the High Jump section is, to me, "in some circumstances." Not in all circumstances, but some. Which strongly suggests to me there is something in the environment that is permitting a higher jump, such as lower gravity or the like, or some approach the player is proposing that is different than normal and has an uncertain outcome and meaningful chance of failure (otherwise there wouldn't be an ability check).
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Easy: DC 5
Medium: DC 10
Hard: DC 15
Very hard: DC 20

That seems reasonable from a theatre of mind style point of view.
You can say platforms are 15 ft apart. Everyone with Str 15 or higher easily gets across. For someone with 10 to 14 Str it is easy difficulty (notice that the strength or athletics bonus gives someone with 14 a better chance than someone with 10 Str. For 5 to 9 it is medium difficulty. For 1 to 4 it is hard.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
If you want it easier for you make it a DC 10 check for everyone. That is in line with the automatic success variant rule. You automatically succeed at checks that are of a DC equal ability score - 5.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So, normally I like 5E's attitude toward letting the DM adjudicate things, but tonight I ran into a stumper.

We had an impromptu Fantasy grounds session (due to technical difficulties with another Roll20 game) and I quick purchased a module. In it there is a room with some hanging platforms, so we had to look up the jumping rules. Funny thing -- there aren't any. More precisely, there aren't any Athletics check rules regarding jumping. It says you can use athletics to jump a greater distance than is allowed in the movement rules, but gives no indication of how difficult that is or how far it would be.

I made a quick ruling and moved on, but it still baffled me. That just seems like the kind of thing you put in the Athletics skill section, even if it is a simple "If greater than the player's strength score, the athletics skill check indicates the distance of the character's running long jump (half from standing)" or something.
There aren’t any special rules for Athletics checks to jump because they are already covered under the basic action resolution system: the player describes an action (e.g. “I want to jump to the other side of the ravine.”), the DM determines the outcome, setting a DC and calling for a check if necessary, and narrates the results.

In other words, when it comes to jumping, you don’t really need a fancy formula to know how many feet you can clear with what result on your Athletics check. All you need to know is, is the distance within the character’s long/high jump range? If it is, they succeed. If it’s not, is it Easy, Medium, Hard, or Very Hard to clear? Set the DC accordingly, and if they meet or exceed that with an Athletics check, they succeed. If not, they fail.
 
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AmerginLiath

Visitor
Also consider skill checks vs attribute checks for specialized attempts vs things anyone can attempt — hence why jumping is a Strength check, not specifically a Strength (Athletics) check. It's less a Missing Rule issue than a Different Core Assumption issue (the surface similarly of 5e to 3e hides a lot of those core changes, many within the basic shift to the renewed focus on attributes – ignoring or forgetting that impacts how things like skills and saving throws are resolved by the DM).
 

Jester David

Adventurer
I made a quick ruling and moved on, but it still baffled me. That just seems like the kind of thing you put in the Athletics skill section,
How so? How does having guidelines for adjudicating jumping make dungeon design difficult?
It's difficult because it's one more rule to look up. One more element to codify.

There are no set DCs for any of the Skills. The DC to pick an average lock, or climb a rope, or identify a level 1 spell, or determine how long someone has been dead, or command a scared warhorse. No chart that lets you figure out the DC to track a group of gnolls with a six hour head start across soft earth two days after it rained on a cloudy day.


It's all on the "Typical DC" chart.
The rules tell you how far you can jump by default. And the DM determines if it's easy, medium, or hard to jump further. They make the call.
 
It's difficult because it's one more rule to look up. One more element to codify.

There are no set DCs for any of the Skills. The DC to pick an average lock, or climb a rope, or identify a level 1 spell, or determine how long someone has been dead, or command a scared warhorse. No chart that lets you figure out the DC to track a group of gnolls with a six hour head start across soft earth two days after it rained on a cloudy day.


It's all on the "Typical DC" chart.
The rules tell you how far you can jump by default. And the DM determines if it's easy, medium, or hard to jump further. They make the call.
I guess I was just taken aback because it had never come up before, at least in a way that had us searching for a rule. Usually I design my own adventures and run improvisationally (which, to be clear, means I really like 5e for that) but since last night I decided to quickly grab a module I was surprised to be presented with a very specific sort of challenge with specific rules to run it. Now, it was one of the Lair Assaults, which I believe were 4e modules, so it may be partly an issue of conversion and different assumptions. The same sort of challenge written natively for 5e might have presented the difficulty in a different way.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
It's difficult because it's one more rule to look up. One more element to codify.

There are no set DCs for any of the Skills. The DC to pick an average lock, or climb a rope, or identify a level 1 spell, or determine how long someone has been dead, or command a scared warhorse. No chart that lets you figure out the DC to track a group of gnolls with a six hour head start across soft earth two days after it rained on a cloudy day.


It's all on the "Typical DC" chart.
The rules tell you how far you can jump by default. And the DM determines if it's easy, medium, or hard to jump further. They make the call.
This. Unlike prior editions, especially 3E, 5E doesn't try to codify every possible situation. By giving the DM leeway to adjudicate DC as needed for individual situations, the rules are greatly simplified. While this may not sit well for some who like having hard coded rules for everything, I find it refreshing.
 
I like having those per skill charts. Even if I decide to ignore them, because they serve as mental benchmarks. I can compare what kind of jump the designers consider "difficult" to my own perspective and make a fast, reasonable ruling. If i don't have anything to go on, i feel a little less certain. I am not a huge fan of story-based DCs (assigning difficulty based on how i want the scene to feel or whatever) because it cuts into player agency, IMO. Slightly less fuzzy benchmarks help them make meaningful decisions (and enjoy the consequences of success or failure). Obviously, YMMV and I get the desire to eliminate those pages and pages of charts.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The problem with having specific examples and hard numbers is that it tends to slow down the game and in some cases limit creativity. If someone is trying to swing from the chandelier, either the DM can make up the rule on the spot like the OP did or someone can say "I think I remember that was covered in ___". Followed by people pulling out books, flipping pages, looking up numbers.

Instead of a dynamic flow and an exciting scene, you have people looking up rules that pull you out of play. Yes, I know the DM can always ignore the numbers but there will frequently be that one person that insists you follow the "official" rules while pulling out their book. It can be quite disruptive.

So I prefer 5E's approach. I can adjust the number based on the scene I'm describing and not worry too much about what's "official" and focus on what makes sense at the moment and will be fun.
 
So I prefer 5E's approach. I can adjust the number based on the scene I'm describing and not worry too much about what's "official" and focus on what makes sense at the moment and will be fun.
Out of curiosity, do you think consistency is important in the DM's adjudication, or do you think the immediate needs of a given action or scene are more important?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Out of curiosity, do you think consistency is important in the DM's adjudication, or do you think the immediate needs of a given action or scene are more important?
I try to be roughly consistent, but I also don't get too caught up in details. Most often, I'll just ask for a check without telling anyone the DC and describe the outcome. For example, we had a scene taking place in the ruins of a city destroyed by dragons. The barbarian was getting frustrated by the (young) dragons swooping in and attacking so she decided to climb the crumbling staircase (only a DC 5 acrobatics, simple but she's running up rubble) then jump onto the back of the dragon (DC 15 athletics not because of distance but because of timing and coordinating jump and flight speed) and then finally a grapple check (which was by the book but I didn't realize).

Anyway, it was a fun series of dice rolls with a decent amount of tension. I never told her what the DCs were other than to give a general "easy" to "difficult". To be honest I can't guarantee I wouldn't have lowered the numbers on the fly if she was close - or if she had a 14 to jump onto the dragon instead of the 15 I may have given her a reaction to grab onto the dragon's tail.

In other cases, level of success may change the result. Leaping across a chasm and get a 5? You're hanging on by one hand and may still fall. Get a 10? Okay, you made it but you still have to pull yourself up as an action and so on.

But circumstances tend to be fairly unique. Different creature, different environmental factors, I may have come up with different numbers or different set of skills. But maybe that's part of it ... I don't allow certain things like disarming opponents where I'd have to have to come up with a house rule (if there aren't some in the book already) because that should be fairly consistent. Boring, IMHO, but consistent.

So short answer: other than internally deciding as a DM based on the 5/10/15/20 difficulty scale, no I don't have hard and fast rules.
 

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