Missing Rules

Ability checks aren't solutions.
Pages 58-59 of the Basic rules:

An ability check tests a character’s or monster’s innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge. . . . Every task that a character or monster might attempt in the game is covered by one of the six abilities.​

This tends to suggest that making (and succeeding) at an ability check is one way of succeeding at (or solving) the challenges posed by the game.

Upthread I said that the very stark division between "mundane" and "magic" drawn in 5e strikes me as an obstalce to playing a RPG of the sort I enjoy. The several pages of posts since that have not dissuaded me of that view!

I can't deny that there is a strong heritage in D&D of spells and magic items being somewhat unique in being both in-fiction resources that therefore can be managed and deployed player-side yet also mechanical capabilities that bind the GM in various ways. But in AD&D thief abilities serve as something like this for non-caster characters; and obviously 4e provided non-caster characters with a very wide range of capabilities that had that nature.

At least as you present it, though, 5e is a more orthodox version of D&D in this respect even than AD&D!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Pages 58-59 of the Basic rules:

An ability check tests a character’s or monster’s innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge. . . . Every task that a character or monster might attempt in the game is covered by one of the six abilities.​

This tends to suggest that making (and succeeding) at an ability check is one way of succeeding at (or solving) the challenges posed by the game.
The task is the solution. The ability check just resolves uncertainty as to the outcome of the task, uncertainty which is established by the DM.

Upthread I said that the very stark division between "mundane" and "magic" drawn in 5e strikes me as an obstalce to playing a RPG of the sort I enjoy. The several pages of posts since that have not dissuaded me of that view!

I can't deny that there is a strong heritage in D&D of spells and magic items being somewhat unique in being both in-fiction resources that therefore can be managed and deployed player-side yet also mechanical capabilities that bind the GM in various ways. But in AD&D thief abilities serve as something like this for non-caster characters; and obviously 4e provided non-caster characters with a very wide range of capabilities that had that nature.

At least as you present it, though, 5e is a more orthodox version of D&D in this respect even than AD&D!
During the playtest, I argued fiercely in a couple of venues for D&D Next (as it was called at the time) to be more like D&D 4e than what the playtest documents suggested. I fought against "DM empowerment," the return of 1e to 3e type spells, ability checks being solely in the hands of the DM, the works. I filled out my feedback surveys the same way.

I fought. I lost. Now I play D&D 5e in the manner that it is designed to the best of my understanding and ability. It works and it is fun. So is D&D 4e, which I still play, but for different reasons. I don't run or play the games the same way.

So please understand that I'm not advocating for anything about the system being better or worse than a previous edition of the game. I was no fan at the start. I'm just saying what it is and what it's not and what my experience is with it now.
 
this thread was about whether or not specific DCs should be listed for jump distances.
It hasn't been about that for around 100+ posts, though. I don't think that 3E or 4e style DCs for jump distances would fit with 5e. But this thread has become about when it is uncertain that a character might clear a greater jump distance than that which p 64 of the rules permits, and thats the issue my posts are addressing.

jumping an unusually long distance is a goal that can be achieved with a successful Athletics check, but to make an Athletics check, you need an approach with a reasonable chance of succeeding at that goal. Jumping normally does not, in my assessment, have a reasonable chance of succeeding at jumping an abnormally long distance.
I don't really follow this. The way you jump far is to jump. Even modern long jumpers, with scientific coaching and absolutely ludicrous amounts of drilling, sometimes jump further and sometimes less far. In the context of a D&D adventure, which on the "realism" side involves characters who are not being scientifically coached, and who have much less control over the circumstances of their launch; and which on the "heroic" side are larger-than-life characters attempting dramatic feats of derring-do; it seems that jumping varying distances depending on a mixture of luck and skill would be quite normal.

This goes back to whether p 64 states a law of nature, or a minimum distance which a jumping character is certain to clear. I think the most natural reading, in light of the text on p 59, is the latter.

No, that's a certain outcome. The PC fails to clear that distance.
Yes, I mistyped. But I hope it was clear that I had grasped your position. You think it is certain that - everything else being equal - a 15 STR character will fail to clear 18 feet with a jump. I don't agree. Which is why I think that the difference is not over what is viable, but rather over what is uncertain.

The referenced action declaration is incomplete. It lacks an approach to the goal.
Goal: I want to get from here to there - 18' across a chasm. Approach: I jump.

Is it certain that the character will make it? No, because the number on the PC sheet next to STR is 15. (Let's skip over the wonkiness that that's not an element of the fiction but an element of the real world.)

Is it certain that the character will not make it? In my view, no: in the fiction, it is quite conceivable that a character's personal best might exceed his/her routine jump; per the rules, p 59 allows that it is possible to jump unusually far, which means that it is not certain that that can't be done.

Therefore a DC is set and a check made. I don't have an intuitive sense of what the DC should be, because I don't have the intuitions of a 5e referee, but it's tempting to say "Medium" DC 15 - that suggests somewhere around a 50%+ chance of clearing the distance, which seems plausible and suitably dramatic.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I take the main difference to be about what is uncertain.

You (and @Charlaquin) seem to think that it is certain that, everything else being equal, a character can't jump further than what the rules on p 64 state. Hence a declaration (say by the player of a PC with 15 STR) "I jump across the 18' wide chasm" is, in your view, uncertain in its outcome.
Assuming that last “uncertain” was a typo, then yes. The outcome of the approach “jump as far as I can” to the goal “jump further than I normally can” is certain. It fails.

But my view is that the presence of p 59 in the rulebook means that the outcome of that action declaration is not certain. It is not certain that the PC makes the jump (because it is further than the distance mentioned on p 64) but nor is it certain that the jump fails (becuse p 59 says that characters can try and jump unusual distances, and that STR is the ability scores that is checjed to determine the outcome of such attempts).

Being uncetain, the general procedures of play call for a check.
That sounds like an accurate summary of our disagreement. I would go a step further and say that the root of our disagreement as to the certainty lies in our interpretation of the interplay between pages 64 and 59.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you interpret the rules on page 64 as describing the minimum distance a character can jump without effort, and putting in effort as an approach that has a reasonable chance of succeeding at allowing the character to jump further than that, as described on page 59.

I, on the other hand, interpret the rules on page 64 as describing the maximum distance a character can jump with their best effort under normal circumstances, and do not consider putting in effort a an approach with a reasonable chance of success at allowing the character to jump further, because I assume the character is already making their best effort unless the player specifically says otherwise. In order for the rules on page 59 to come into play, the player would need a different approach. In order to jump unusually far, the character needs an unusually effective means of jumping.
 
So please understand that I'm not advocating for anything about the system being better or worse than a previous edition of the game. I was no fan at the start. I'm just saying what it is and what it's not and what my experience is with it now.
I realise all this.

For clarity, I will restate the two things I've said in this thread.

One is a reply to your question about what games I'm playing, wtih some explanation. I'm trying to explain why I don't find 5e too appealing, using some of what is going on in this thread as illustration.

The other is about the topic of the thread. Even within the 5e paradigm - which I don't think you have got wrong, although I think you advocate a very orthodox version of it! - I think your adjudication of the jump a long distance issue is not the only way to go. I think you treat p 64 as making something certain which in my view it doesn't, especially when p 59 is factored in.

EDIT: In the post just upthread of this [MENTION=6779196]Charlaquin[/MENTION] sets out the two interpetations clearly. And that has also prompted my to state one way my two points do interact: my reading of pp 59 and 64 goes a very minor way to reducing those features of 5e which make it somewhat unappealing to me, by increasing the scope of what a non-magic-using character can achieve by jumping.
 
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In order to jump unusually far, the character needs an unusually effective means of jumping.
I am curious as to what you (or [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]) would regard as an unusually effective means of jumping which nevertheless requires a check rather than just making success automatic (as a magical solution like Jump or Boots would do; or as a ramp or similar height advantage would seem to do).

Upthread, taking a level of exhaustion was mentioned. But apart from anything else, that doesn't seem to fit with the idea that the character is always putting in his/her best effort.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I am curious as to what you (or @iserith) would regard as an unusually effective means of jumping which nevertheless requires a check rather than just making success automatic (as a magical solution like Jump or Boots would do; or as a ramp or similar height advantage would seem to do).
The beauty of the goal/approach method is that I don’t need to have a bunch of specific examples memorized for what would or wouldn’t constitute what kind of check at what DC. I can evaluate that at the table, with the full and appropriate context, based on the player’s stated goal and approach. So, I don’t have an example of an approach for you off the top of my head. Give me an example and I’ll tell you how I would rule on it.

Upthread, taking a level of exhaustion was mentioned. But apart from anything else, that doesn't seem to fit with the idea that the character is always putting in his/her best effort.
That specific example was in the context of running from zombies, the hypothetical approach being taking advantage of the stressful situation, using the increased adrenaline to go beyond the character’s best effort, like how people have been able to pull off extraordinary feats of strength such as lifting cars in high-stress situations like their children being in danger. It was also an intentional reference to the anime My Hero Academia.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
@pemerton: I think @Charlaquin has essentially given the same answer I would for questions in posts 267, 269, and 270, by and large. I didn't think anything needed repeating. If there's anything that was missed, please let me know.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
This whole weird thing some people have with making a distinction between like "ability checks aren't solutions". Nobody that I play with cares about these kind of distinctions.
I would assume based on what you've said so far in this thread that you play with people who are used to treating ability checks as tools at the players' disposal, so it makes sense that they wouldn't consider the distinction between ability checks and solutions important.

Those of us who treat ability checks as tool the DM uses to resolve uncertainty in the outcomes of actions the players describe do consider the distinction important. "I make a (whatever) check" is not an action in that paradigm. It's a way of resolving an action, applied at the DM's discretion.

The distinction, whether important in your preferred play style or not, isn't a problem. It's just a distinction.
 

AlViking

Villager
I would assume based on what you've said so far in this thread that you play with people who are used to treating ability checks as tools at the players' disposal, so it makes sense that they wouldn't consider the distinction between ability checks and solutions important.

Those of us who treat ability checks as tool the DM uses to resolve uncertainty in the outcomes of actions the players describe do consider the distinction important. "I make a (whatever) check" is not an action in that paradigm. It's a way of resolving an action, applied at the DM's discretion.

The distinction, whether important in your preferred play style or not, isn't a problem. It's just a distinction.
Also a distinction I don't see anyone making. Someone wants to open a gate they can tell me they want to use an athletics check or say "I try to lift it with brute force". Same diff. Also something I don't see anyone I've ever played with making the distinction.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you interpret the rules on page 64 as describing the minimum distance a character can jump without effort, and putting in effort as an approach that has a reasonable chance of succeeding at allowing the character to jump further than that, as described on page 59.
I think this is an ungenerous reading of pemerton and my position. What we’re saying is those distances are what can be jumped with certainty, i.e. no check required. Not that no effort is required, simply that the character is guaranteed to make it (under normal circumstances). With that out of the way we’re now contemplating whether it is possible for a character to jump further than they normally can and, of course, in extraordinary circumstances people can. The player has recognized the extraordinary circumstances and says their character is going to attempt something more. That is perfectly reasonable, the character is heroically trying to push themselves to escape a tight spot, and the response is “sad trombone” the character automatically fails and falls.

Seems awfully rigid and frankly unrealistic.

edited for amazingly bad autocorrect fails!
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
Just a point I would like people to consider.

A STR 15 character can jump from 1 to 15 feet, no fail, over and over, all day long, 365 days a year, no chance of failure*. No roll needed.

Nothing says that the upper limit is a strain, or their best effort. It just says they can, without fail, jump that far.

I am not in the debate about declaring actions or goals or effect. That's table preference.


So how do we get the "I'm being chased by zombies, so I'm going to risk it" movie trope scenario? Because it should be a risk, and if the distance is too far, based on the character's estimate...well then they would be foolish indeed to try.

Cause so far, I see no motivation for risking a jump, and that would seem to take away something that should be in the game.*







* barring scenario based complications of course.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That is perfectly reasonable, the character is heroically trying to push themselves to escape a tight spot, and the response is “sad trombone” the character automatically fails and falls.
I would say it's also reasonable to conclude that an approach is needed to achieve a goal of jumping an unusually long distance which is something other than the approach used to jump normally. And that if such an approach is not viable in the present situation, then it's time for that player (and character) to think fast and come up with something else. We're talking about poor Bob as if jumping is his only option and that doesn't seem all that likely a scenario in my experience. Climb down the chasm or pit wall - I've never heard of a zombie that climbs.

What we're disagreeing on appears to be the viability of "I try harder than usual" or "adrenaline and stuff" as approaches and I think even [MENTION=6779196]Charlaquin[/MENTION] is okay with the latter given a cost. I'm not. So my players may have to work a little harder to save Bob. No big deal. Why am I not okay with that approach? It doesn't actually matter. DMs are just going to rule differently on matters of what is or isn't an uncertain outcome and/or a meaningful consequence of failure. That's okay.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So how do we get the "I'm being chased by zombies, so I'm going to risk it" movie trope scenario?
Give a viable approach to achieving the goal of jumping an unusually long distance. Maybe you succeed outright, maybe you fail outright, maybe you roll for it. Same as anything else.
 

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