Missing Rules

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm really not understanding this hard line you're drawing. The jumping rules determine what a character can do without possibility of failure. I.e. they automatically succeed, no check required. There then has to be a certain amount of reasonable distance beyond that the character can attempt with some risk of failure. And a further distance at which the character is guaranteed to fail.

The character stating that they realize they're attempting to jump beyond what they can do without fail (but not an unreasonable distance) puts them into this grey area surely?

I don't get why you're being so black and white about it?
The only thing that's black and white is the need for the player to describe a goal and approach. The gray area is how the DM judges what is offered. I would not accept something along the lines of "You know, I just try harder..." as a viable approach to the goal of jumping an unusually long distance. But some other circumstance may be viable such as taking advantage of a terrain feature or resource the character has. You might be okay with "You know, I just try harder..." It's not a call I would make, but neither of us are wrong.
 

AlViking

Villager
Asking to make an ability check is asking for a chance to fail, and the d20 is famously fickle. The smarter play in my view is to describe what you want to do while making an effort to remove uncertainty as to the outcome and/or the meaningful consequence of failure. If you fall short of automatic success and the DM asks you to roll, hopefully you have the right proficiencies and ability scores or have some resources you can spend to see you through.

There is also nothing in D&D 5e rules that leads me to believe the player can or should ask to make ability checks. That is more appropriate for previous editions of the game. (When I play D&D 4e, I tell the players to ask to make checks all they want!) As well, I have all the TV tropes in my game, too. This doesn't require players asking to make ability checks.
And risk is part of the game. Maybe the chasm is 30 ft deep and the person is 10th level and knows they can survive the fall but for tactical reasons wants to jump anyway. Or they're reckless and will jump even if it means they might die.

It's not my call. It's also not the player asking to make an ability check. They're saying "I know I can't automatically make that jump but I'm going to do it anyway." But even if they are asking to make an ability check I don't really care, they're just acknowledging a mechanic and not relying on code words.

I have no problem with a character on TV or in D&D to come up to a gap, hesitate and decide eff it, I'm jumping anyway. I like the dramatic tension such moments bring.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
The only thing that's black and white is the need for the player to describe a goal and approach. The gray area is how the DM judges what is offered. I would not accept something along the lines of "You know, I just try harder..." as a viable approach to the goal of jumping an unusually long distance. But some other circumstance may be viable such as taking advantage of a terrain feature or resource the character has. You might be okay with "You know, I just try harder..." It's not a call I would make, but neither of us are wrong.
OK this dead horse is well and truly flogged! :D
 

AlViking

Villager
To be clear, my position is only on what the jumping rules specifically say in the context of how to play the game (again, according to the rules), especially as it relates to the need for the player to describe a goal and approach for the DM to judge and not just ask to make an ability check.

While I would likely not rule that a character can just "try harder" (or words to that effect) to jump than normal without some kind of circumstance giving him or her a boost, it is not for me to say whether another DM is wrong for accepting "I try harder" as a viable approach to the goal of jumping an unusually long distance. And it would be equally incorrect for anyone to say that I'm wrong for not accepting that approach as anything other than a normal jump. This is also my position with regard to judging something as having a meaningful consequence of failure as evidenced by my exchange upthread with @Maxperson and @Charlaquin.
Except that the rules also state that you can jump further than usual, which is something you don't seem to have explained.

I agree that for simplicity of play there are some hard cut-off points. Hit points come to mind. It's just easier to not have a death spiral before you fall over.

I just don't see a reason to make jumping that arbitrary, especially since jumping further than normal with an athletics check is specifically spelled out.

I'll just leave it at that. We don't agree on how to run the game.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
And risk is part of the game. Maybe the chasm is 30 ft deep and the person is 10th level and knows they can survive the fall but for tactical reasons wants to jump anyway. Or they're reckless and will jump even if it means they might die.

It's not my call. It's also not the player asking to make an ability check. They're saying "I know I can't automatically make that jump but I'm going to do it anyway." But even if they are asking to make an ability check I don't really care, they're just acknowledging a mechanic and not relying on code words.

I have no problem with a character on TV or in D&D to come up to a gap, hesitate and decide eff it, I'm jumping anyway. I like the dramatic tension such moments bring.
Sure, risk is part of the game. It follows that to some degree so is risk mitigation. A good way to mitigate risk is to try to remove uncertainty and/or the meaningful consequence of failure because that creates a situation where an ability check is no longer called for. The d20 - who is nobody's friend - then has no say. That's a reasonable behavior when presented with risk in my view.

I have no issue whatsoever if a player wants to have the character try to jump a distance he or she knows the character cannot normally achieve with certainty. He or she should also not be surprised by the result if the approach to the goal of jumping an unusually long distance is insufficient. An ability check is not a description of a goal and approach. At best it implies a range of goals and approaches that have an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. It says nothing about what the character is actually doing. And at many tables, a player declaring an ability check is followed by the DM describing what the character does - a complete reversal of the player and DM roles. Fine if you like that sort of thing. I don't because in this game that's not intended by the rules so far as I can tell. It's more appropriate to previous editions of the game.

I find it odd in these discussions that the mere suggestion that a player necessarily states a goal and approach in order to describe an action is met with "You're playing word games" or using "code words" or "narrative flourishes," etc. It comes up every single time. What's odd about it is that players are stating goals and approaches all the time during play. It is unavoidable. So what makes my table about "code words?"
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Except that the rules also state that you can jump further than usual, which is something you don't seem to have explained.
I've explained it at length, over and over again: An approach is required to determine if the character can actually jump an unusually long distance. "An Athletics check" is not an approach. It is a mechanic to resolve a declared approach to a goal that has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. I am in no way against a character trying to jump an unusually long distance. The question is "How?"

The gray area, as I pointed out to [MENTION=6801558]robus[/MENTION], is that the efficacy of the player's answer to "How?" is going to be judged differently by different DMs. He's okay with "I try harder..." (or words to that effect). I am not. Neither of us are wrong.
 
. What's odd about it is that players are stating goals and approaches all the time during play. It is unavoidable. So what makes my table about "code words?"
I can only speak for myself, but to my mind it expresses a certain kind of playstyle that isn't inherently more "5e" than any other. A player never needs to state more than their intended goal, IMO. I don't ask what sort of lunge or strike they are making at the orc and I don't ask how precisely they are jumping. I ask what they a doing and what their goal is if clarity is needed. If a player does that through in character expression, that's okay but I will still ask what their mechanical, game based approach is. If all they give me is that mechanical approach, that's fine.
 

AlViking

Villager
I've explained it at length, over and over again: An approach is required to determine if the character can actually jump an unusually long distance. "An Athletics check" is not an approach. It is a mechanic to resolve a declared approach to a goal that has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. I am in no way against a character trying to jump an unusually long distance. The question is "How?"

The gray area, as I pointed out to @robus, is that the efficacy of the player's answer to "How?" is going to be judged differently by different DMs. He's okay with "I try harder..." (or words to that effect). I am not. Neither of us are wrong.
Maybe I've misunderstood. I can be dense.

But if someone says "I try to jump the chasm even though it's further than I can jump" you seem to say that they fail. Period.

If someone says "I know I don't have the strength to jump that, I'd like to make an athletics check to jump further" my response would be exactly the same. I don't care how they state it, the fact that they called for an athletics check doesn't matter to me.

My response would be:"That's an unusually long distance and is not going to be automatic" and give them a rough idea of how hard I think it's going to be. If they still try it, dice are rolled to resolve an uncertain outcome. Based on their athletics check they may succeed, may be holding on by their fingernails or may fall.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I can only speak for myself, but to my mind it expresses a certain kind of playstyle that isn't inherently more "5e" than any other. A player never needs to state more than their intended goal, IMO. I don't ask what sort of lunge or strike they are making at the orc and I don't ask how precisely they are jumping. I ask what they a doing and what their goal is if clarity is needed. If a player does that through in character expression, that's okay but I will still ask what their mechanical, game based approach is. If all they give me is that mechanical approach, that's fine.
I'm fine with that too when I'm playing D&D 3e or 4e. But anyway:

"I try to stab the orc (goal) with my sword (approach)." Are any of those code words?

"I try to clear the 10-foot pit (goal) by jumping over it (approach)." Do we need to get Matthew McConaughey to steal an enigma machine to figure these code words? :)
 

AlViking

Villager
OK this dead horse is well and truly flogged! :D
I agree, the horse is dead and no matter how much you beat it the horse won't jump.

I will leave with one last thing ... if I call for something like this the DC would be based on percentage past what you can normally jump, not X number of feet.

So someone with a 20 strength trying to jump 30 feet (50% more than normal) is really, really difficult. Epically difficult to do it as easy as a normal jump.

Athletics of 25 or higher they can continue as normal.
Athletics check of 20 give me a dexterity save (DC depending on the edge). Succeed and you're hanging on to the edge, effectively prone. Fail and you're barely hanging on, it will be an action to pull yourself up.
Athletics check of 15 and depending on the target I may give you a Dexterity save to try to grab onto something as you hit the wall on the other side if it's possible.
Lower than that you fall.

DC will be lowered for smaller percentages and adjusted based on standard jump distance. So jumping 25% more (5 feet for a 20 strength person) would drop DCs by 5. A person with a 10 strength trying to jump an extra 5 feet would be at the higher DC.

However ... this comes up so irregularly that I don't have a hard and set rule. This is just how I would think of the DCs, as a reflection of how much you're trying to exceed your normal cabability.
 
I'm fine with that too when I'm playing D&D 3e or 4e.
I guess I just don't see how 5e is fundamentally different that any previous edition in this regard. It is a traditional roleplaying game with a traditional player-GM relationship and a traditional set of resolution mechanics. It happens to expect a lot of work on the GM's part and tries to mitigate that by leaving a lot of thing up to the GM's gut and preferences, but the game does not come with a bunch of tools for shared world building, dramatic editing or other "new age" sorts of things we see in modern, less traditional games.

"I try to stab the orc (goal) with my sword (approach)." Are any of those code words?
Roll to hit.

"I try to clear the 10-foot pit (goal) by jumping over it (approach)."
Roll Athletics.

See? No difference.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Maybe I've misunderstood. I can be dense.
Don't beat yourself up. It's been a long, ponderous thread with many tangents and conflations of positions.

But if someone says "I try to jump the chasm even though it's further than I can jump" you seem to say that they fail. Period.
Yes. The normal rules for jumping would be applied here by me, based on the player's stated approach to the goal.

If someone says "I know I don't have the strength to jump that, I'd like to make an athletics check to jump further" my response would be exactly the same. I don't care how they state it, the fact that they called for an athletics check doesn't matter to me.

My response would be:"That's an unusually long distance and is not going to be automatic" and give them a rough idea of how hard I think it's going to be. If they still try it, dice are rolled to resolve an uncertain outcome. Based on their athletics check they may succeed, may be holding on by their fingernails or may fall.
My response would be something like "Awesome - how do you propose to jump this unusually long distance?" If the player offers a viable approach to the proposed goal and I find that approach to have an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure, NOW I can apply the rule for "You try to jump an unusually long distance..." via a Strength (Athletics) check and resolve accordingly.

The mechanics follow the player describing what he or she wants to do and the DM making a judgment about whether and which mechanics apply.
 

AlViking

Villager
Don't beat yourself up. It's been a long, ponderous thread with many tangents and conflations of positions.



Yes. The normal rules for jumping would be applied here by me, based on the player's stated approach to the goal.



My response would be something like "Awesome - how do you propose to jump this unusually long distance?" If the player offers a viable approach to the proposed goal and I find that approach to have an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure, NOW I can apply the rule for "You try to jump an unusually long distance..." via a Strength (Athletics) check and resolve accordingly.

The mechanics follow the player describing what he or she wants to do and the DM making a judgment about whether and which mechanics apply.
The primary difference then is that I don't ask them to justify anything. They accept the risk and make the jump. If they can do anything to give themselves a boost that's fine as well.

While I prefer that players don't talk in specific mechanics such as "I make an athletics check" it wouldn't change the end result. If for some reason I didn't think an athletics check was reasonable I'd tell them.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I guess I just don't see how 5e is fundamentally different that any previous edition in this regard. It is a traditional roleplaying game with a traditional player-GM relationship and a traditional set of resolution mechanics. It happens to expect a lot of work on the GM's part and tries to mitigate that by leaving a lot of thing up to the GM's gut and preferences, but the game does not come with a bunch of tools for shared world building, dramatic editing or other "new age" sorts of things we see in modern, less traditional games.
What I see at most tables is that the DM is doing all the work because the players are not performing their role according to what D&D 5e prescribes. Either they are used to the paradigm of a different game system or they've been taught that way by someone who approaches all editions of D&D as if they are the same game. This is true of some popular vodcasts I've seen as well. The players offer basically nothing in the way of description, often asking to make an ability check. The DM feels pressured to accept that and then has to fill in the blanks on what the character is actually doing. Sometimes this even leads to the player objecting to what the DM establishes - "No, I wouldn't have done that." Well, maybe if you performed your role instead of kicking it all to the DM by asking to make ability checks instead of describing what you want to do, maybe this wouldn't happen!

Roll to hit.

Roll Athletics.

See? No difference.
Yeah, that's my point. I bring up making a statement of goal and approach that the DM can adjudicate and suddenly it's "You use code words!" Silly.
 
What I see at most tables is that the DM is doing all the work because the players are not performing their role according to what D&D 5e prescribes. Either they are used to the paradigm of a different game system or they've been taught that way by someone who approaches all editions of D&D as if they are the same game. This is true of some popular vodcasts I've seen as well. The players offer basically nothing in the way of description, often asking to make an ability check. The DM feels pressured to accept that and then has to fill in the blanks on what the character is actually doing. Sometimes this even leads to the player objecting to what the DM establishes - "No, I wouldn't have done that." Well, maybe if you performed your role instead of kicking it all to the DM by asking to make ability checks instead of describing what you want to do, maybe this wouldn't happen!
But 5e does not prescribe this anywhere in the rule book. It says the DM presents a situation, the player describes their actions and the DM adjudicates the next step, repeat until resolution. "Describe" here does not come with any rules attached to it. It is in a portion of the book written in natural language. It means what the word means in common conversation. "I want to jump across the chasm using Athletics," is in fact describing what the player wants to do. If the DM responds with, "Sorry, you can't. It is 16 feet and you only have a 15 strength. You fall to your death." that DM fundamentally misunderstands his role at the table.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The primary difference then is that I don't ask them to justify anything. They accept the risk and make the jump. If they can do anything to give themselves a boost that's fine as well.

While I prefer that players don't talk in specific mechanics such as "I make an athletics check" it wouldn't change the end result. If for some reason I didn't think an athletics check was reasonable I'd tell them.
I actually don't care if players talk in or about mechanics during play. They just can't ask to make ability checks because that is not the prescribed role of the player in D&D 5e. It's not even a very good strategy for success in my view. Oftentimes, players in my pickup groups for one-shots are delighted when they assume I want a roll and I don't ask for one because I don't find the task to have an uncertain outcome and/or a meaningful consequence of failure. In my last one-shot, one of the players said "I can't believe our plan is working - I've never had a plan work before!" How sad. Too many dice rolls, I suspect.

A lot of people think that I use this approach (among others I've cited in other threads) because we're super-serious roleplayers that only want first-person actor stance or whatever. That's not true at all. Nobody who plays or lurks in one of my games would say that. But we do each stick to our prescribed roles and the game flows great as a result.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Sure, but the reason might simply be "I know I can't clear this comfortably - it's further than the gap I jump across every morning when I'm training! - but if I give it my all I might just make it!"

The idea that, by default, the distances a hero can try and jump either fall into the will automatically make it category and the can't possibly make it category isn't that appealing to me, and on my reading of the 5e rules is not mandated by them.

Is it sufficient or not? That seems like something uncertain - and hence that might aptly be determined by a check.

I'm not playing 5e, but this thread came up on a forum front page and the question of how actions should be resolved in various systems is something I find interesting.

The last two sessions I've GMed have been Prince Valiant. (You can read about them here and here if you like!) The basic approach to resolution is not different from that which you advocate for 5e - player declares what his/her PC does, and GM stipulates check required (if any) and difficulty. (Unlike 4e there are not resources whose deployment is senstiive to the making of checks; and unlike BW there is no system of advancement contingent on making checks with a particular ability; so calling for checks isn't really a player-side thing.)

I'm running it much as I've been running Classic Traveller (another system I've been running a bit over the past year or so): say "yes" when nothing much is at stake and the fiction doesn't make success terribly improbable; otherwise set an "objective" difficulty (which contrasts with 4e or Cortex+ Heroic - the latter another system I've been running quite a bit recently) and see how the check plays out, with BW-style "fail forward" narration of failures.

I find this very reminiscent of classic D&D or OSR-style play. I feel that it tends to push play in the direction I mentioned upthread - very operationally focused, with a principal consideration being external factors that will allow the character to succeed.

I prefer using "say 'yes'" as a device to manage dramatic pacing rather than as a response to tactical planning, and to use "fail forward" to manage the outcomes of failure. It's also the case that it's a long time since I've run a system with a "notoriously fickle" d20 (4e has the illusion of being such a system, but there are so many player-side resources for generating post hoc boosts, retries, etc that it really isn't) - BW and Prince Valiant are dice pools, Classic Traveller is mostly 2d6, and Cortex+ Heroic is very complicated dice pools with a lot of player-side manipulation as well.

Because of the way 5e strongly demarcates "mundane" checks and "magical" spells and class abilities, I suspect it may be hard to play in the style I prefer, which is one reason why I don't play it. But on this particular issue of a character jumping further than s/he easily can, I think drifting it in that direction in the way that I've described (following [MENTION=467]Reynard[/MENTION]'s description) is not that hard at all. (And in lieu of any sophisticated "fail forward" in the event of failure, if the PC is 14th level as Reynard suggested then the hp mechanics will probably carry that load.)
While i cannot speak to your particular definition of say yes and fail forward, i can say that i am of similar bent in my rpg style and find plenty of support for it in 5e.

One can of course decide to drive and tunnel in on a particular spot of the introduction or not but when looking at ability checks for instance i find the section mysteriously titled "abikity checks" in the chapter so very enigmaticly labelled "Using Ability Scores" where it describes the result of not getting the DC or higher this way:

"Otherwise, its a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress towards the object or makes progress with a setback determined by the GM."

I find that allows quite a bit of latitude for resolving failed skill checks that fits right in with my own views of "Say yes, unless i have a compelling reason to say no" and "fail forward."

There are plenty of options for the GM in the DMG that can be used to establish (based on character ability score and proficiencies) minimum auto-success standards quite similar in fact to the way jump works - if a GM sees that as desirable. Options there can even expand the "setback" idea beyond skill check with "success at cost" if desired.

So depending on what you choose to use, or exclude, from your PHB or even DMG options, you can have the gameplay you want.


It works for us.
 

AlViking

Villager
I actually don't care if players talk in or about mechanics during play. They just can't ask to make ability checks because that is not the prescribed role of the player in D&D 5e. It's not even a very good strategy for success in my view. Oftentimes, players in my pickup groups for one-shots are delighted when they assume I want a roll and I don't ask for one because I don't find the task to have an uncertain outcome and/or a meaningful consequence of failure. In my last one-shot, one of the players said "I can't believe our plan is working - I've never had a plan work before!" How sad. Too many dice rolls, I suspect.

A lot of people think that I use this approach (among others I've cited in other threads) because we're super-serious roleplayers that only want first-person actor stance or whatever. That's not true at all. Nobody who plays or lurks in one of my games would say that. But we do each stick to our prescribed roles and the game flows great as a result.
I think those are two separate issues. If someone says "I want to make an ___ check to ___" if I don't think its appropriate I'll let them know. Then I'll ask them what they're trying to accomplish and ask for an appropriate roll if one is even necessary.

As far as planning and trying to resolve issues without rolling the dice, I allow it all the time. I also think it's a separate issue.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
But 5e does not prescribe this anywhere in the rule book. It says the DM presents a situation, the player describes their actions and the DM adjudicates the next step, repeat until resolution. "Describe" here does not come with any rules attached to it. It is in a portion of the book written in natural language. It means what the word means in common conversation. "I want to jump across the chasm using Athletics," is in fact describing what the player wants to do. If the DM responds with, "Sorry, you can't. It is 16 feet and you only have a 15 strength. You fall to your death." that DM fundamentally misunderstands his role at the table.
That DM does NOT misunderstand his or her role at the table in your example. The DM is narrating the result of the adventurer's action which is the purview of the DM and Step 3 of the basic conversation of the game. However much you may disagree with the ruling, it is appropriate to the role.

As for players asking to make ability checks, please let me know if you find any example of that in the Basic Rules or DMG. To my knowledge, the only thing that is called out is asking to apply a proficiency to an ability check the DM already called for. Players asking to make ability checks is a common approach to playing in my experience, but I find no support for it in the D&D 5e rules. Contrast that with D&D 4e, for example, which explicitly says: "A player often initiates a skill check by asking the DM if he or she can make one. Almost always, the DM says yes." This approach seems very much to me like a holdover from other editions of the game that people are bringing with them into D&D 5e. And to be clear, I still play D&D 4e. In that game, go nuts with asking to make skill checks! But not in my D&D 5e game.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think those are two separate issues. If someone says "I want to make an ___ check to ___" if I don't think its appropriate I'll let them know. Then I'll ask them what they're trying to accomplish and ask for an appropriate roll if one is even necessary.

As far as planning and trying to resolve issues without rolling the dice, I allow it all the time. I also think it's a separate issue.
The issue with "I want to make an X check to Y" is that X doesn't describe an approach. At best it implies one then kicks it to the DM to imagine what the character is actually doing. The DM cannot establish what the character is doing as that is not the DM's role - the player is the only one who can say how the character acts or what it says or thinks. The DM can only describe the environment and (after determining whether mechanics come into play) narrate the results of the adventurers' actions.
 

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